No fewer than seven tennis players from Russia and Belarus were still at Wimbledon at the start of the second week of the tournament. They are pleased with the friendly reception of the fans. But there is also a misunderstanding.
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- Belarusian Victoria Azarenka was whistled by the crowd at Wimbledon when she refused to shake hands with Ukrainian Jelena Soytolina.
- In general, the Russians feel well received by the audience. “I’ve never had such a great reception at Wimbledon,” says world number 3 Daniil Medvedev.
- In terms of sports, tennis professionals from Russia and Belarus are doing very well. Seven of them were still there at the start of the second week of the tournament.
This is very rare at Wimbledon. Victoria Azarenka sends the civilized audience into the dressing room with a roar – and this is after a thrilling round of 16, where she lost 9:11 in the third-set tiebreaker against Ukrainian Jelina Switolina. The Belarusian did nothing wrong – on the contrary.
drunk or ignorant
Unlike Arina Sabalenka, who ostensibly waited at the net in Paris to shake hands with Soytolina, who was defeated at the time, Azarenka withdrew, but paid her respects to Soytolina with a small nod. However, some fans interpreted their behavior as an unsportsmanlike refusal to shake hands with a bad loser. They apparently did not notice that Svitolina, like all Ukrainians, refuses to shake hands with all Russians and Belarusians because of Russia’s invasion of their country.
Some of them must have been a little drunk, said Asarenka, very disappointed. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m not sure many people understood what happened.” In general, the controversial return of players from Russia and Belarus takes place without major complications, but above all with great success. At least three Russians, two Russians and two Belarusians have reached the round of 16.
Medvedev was pleasantly surprised
Most of them are also very satisfied with the audience’s reception. “I really didn’t know what to expect,” admits world number three Daniil Medvedev. “I could have imagined that people’s reaction would not be positive.” But he was pleasantly surprised. “There was no negative energy. I have never had such a great reception at Wimbledon.”
He is now trying to return the favor. how? “By not doing crazy things and not acting like a selfish kid on the field,” the 27-year-old from Moscow who already messed with the New York crowd loudly in 2019 said with a laugh. So far, he has kept his word and is in the quarter-finals for the first time in the Mecca grass.
Skye’s daughter will have to wait
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Jelena Soytolina reached the semi-finals by defeating world number one and Pinchek Iga Swiatek. The handshake with the Pole wasn’t particularly sincere because of that. “I am very grateful to IGA for its support of Ukraine. She is doing everything she can, ”as she previously emphasized. The Ukrainians received help—there were no men in the painting—also from the British Society. This prompted the housing of all Ukrainians since the start of the preparatory tournaments on the island.
Someone may not be entirely happy with Svitolina’s success. Her husband, Gaël Monfils, now has to take care of their nine-month-old daughter, Sakak, at home in France. “I think he’s a little overwhelmed with babysitting,” she said, laughing after the third round. She had already had to give up tickets to Harry Styles’ concert last Saturday because “Wimbledon got in the way.”
The desire for clarity
Svitolina has also clearly expressed her opposition to the return of the Russians and Belarusians. However, Azarenka did not blame after the round of 16. “I was booed in Paris, and she is now. I have no problem with her behavior,” said the 28-year-old from Odessa. “I have always made my position clear. As long as the Russian forces are on our land, I will not shake hands with them.” The problem is that not many people realize this.
I suggested that the organizers inform viewers in advance that the lack of handshakes had nothing to do with the outcome. This probably won’t happen at the moment. “The handshake is a personal decision over which we have no influence. Neither one way nor the other,” said tournament director Sally Bolton on Monday. A handshake will only become an issue in the final if Switolina meets the other Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka there.
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