Tensions in the sporting world around the conflict in Ukraine spilled over into the tennis arena when the Ukrainian player Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with Anastasia Potapova after she was beaten 6-1, 6-3 by the Russian in their second-round match at the Miami Open.
It wasn’t the first time the war had made a recent impact in the tennis world as the game came after Potapova was warned by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) for turning up to her Indian Wells match against Jessica Pegula while wearing a Spartak Moscow football shirt.
Kostyuk, who had also previously refused to shake hands with Russia’s Varvara Gracheva and Victoria Azarenka, from Russia’s ally Belarus, said “obviously there is tension – we’re not friends. We are at war at the moment.”
The world No 38 told the press there had been no response from the WTA about a request from Ukrainian players to meet. “Yes, we wanted to have the meeting with the board and we didn’t get one. No reply, nothing, just silence,” she said.
Asked about Potapova’s warning for sporting the football shirt, Kostyuk said: “There are a lot of things that I don’t agree with that the WTA is doing. This is not going to change anything. I’ll just get more hate online. Whatever I say, I will get a lot of hate. I don’t know. You [can] give her a warning. You can suspend someone, I don’t know. I can’t comment on that really, it’s just funny.”
Potapova, meanwhile, had defended her choice of shirt at Indian Wells earlier this month, saying: “There was not any political intention in this shirt. It’s very sad that people seeing things that isn’t actually the truth. I’m just a super fan of Spartak since I was 10 years old. My dad built part of the stadium for this team, so it’s our family thing.”
Potapova will next play American Coco Gauff, who beat Canada’s Rebecca Marino 6-4, 6-3.