Ukrainian tennis player Lesia Tsurenko REFUSES to shake hands with Russian Daria Kasatkina after loss in Madrid Open after admitting her biggest wish is ‘for the war to end’
- Kasatkina came out victorious in the third round of the Madrid Open
- Ukraine’s Tsurenko refused to shake hands with the Russian and world number 8
- Tsurenko previously admitted that her biggest wish is ‘for the war to end’
Amid all the tensions between players from Russia and Ukraine a slightly poignant scene played out on the Arantxa Sanchez court at the Madrid Open.
After being beaten 6-4 6-2 in the third round Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko, as is now customary, refused to shake hands with Daria Kasatkina, world number eight and Russian number one.
Kasatkina lingered by her opponent’s chair as their paths crossed at the end and gave her opponent a faintly sheepish wave. Unusually, Tsurenko responded with a small but discernible acknowledgement.
Hardly peace in our time but it may have been recognition that, among all the players from the aggressor nations, Kasatkina is the most difficult to associate with the behaviour of her country in infinitely more important matters.
She has been the bravest of all her compatriots in speaking out about the geopolitical situation, and yesterday again referred to what the Russian army is engaged in as ‘war’.
Lesia Tsurenko refused to shake the hand of Daria Kasatkina after their match in Madrid
The pair acknowledged each other but did not shake hands after their match concluded
Tsurenko went to the airport after the defeat, but Kasatkina stayed to answer questions
Her feelings were made clear as far back as last summer when, in a YouTube interview, she stated that her biggest wish in life was ‘for the war to end’, describing it as a ‘full-blown nightmare’.
Nine months on the military confrontation is still going, but the Russian and Belarussian players are competing very successfully. Never more so than this week with eight women and six men making it through to the third round of Spain’s biggest tournament.
Wimbledon’s ban has crumbled under pressure from the ATP and WTA Tours, who she pointed out have been extremely generous towards those from her country compared to other sports.
Tsurenko went straight to the airport after yesterday’s defeat, but Kasatkina hung around and, in answering questions, showed she retains her sense of perspective.
Tsurenko previously admitted that her biggest wish in life was ‘for the war to end’
Kasatkina won 6-4 6-2 in the third round of the Madrid Open as Tsurenko was knocked out
Kasatkina admitted that she accepts the reasons for Tsurenko not wanting to shake hands
Asked if she felt sad when opponents refused to shake hands she responded: ‘The saddest part is the war is still going on, so of course the players from Ukraine, they’ve got a lot of reasons to not shake our hands and I accept it. It’s a very sad situation. I understand them and I was actually happy that she waved me back.’
Kasatkina has already signed her declaration of neutrality that will be required to compete at SW19 this summer, clearly without reluctance.
‘I’m happy to, I was very sad to miss Wimbledon last year – although that was for a reason – but still it was painful. To be honest we are the luckiest sport (in which to be Russian) because we are able to compete still, as 95 per cent of the athletes from Russia they can’t go outside and compete in international events. We really appreciate this opportunity that we can be on the international stage.’
She also endorsed the policy of Wimbledon, announced last week, that Ukrainian players will get preferential treatment this year when it comes to laying on practice facilities and the provision of two free hotel rooms for the duration of the grass season.
‘Most of their players they cannot go back to their practice bases, they cannot go home, so it makes a lot of sense to give them the opportunity to practice in London. They have to be always on the road and have to pay their accommodation so I think it makes a lot of sense,’ said Kasatkina.
The Barcelona-based Russian knows all about not being able to go home. In her outspoken interview last summer she came out as gay – she is in a relationship with ice skater Natalia Zabiiako – and questioned whether it would ever be possible to return to her native land because of her sexuality and views on the war.
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