Ukrainian tennis star Marta Kostyuk has spoken about being left ‘paralyzed and sick for three days’ after watching a disgusting video of a soldier being killed. The 20-year-old won her first ATP title at the ATX Open in Texas last month after beating Russian star Varvara Gracheva in the final and dedicated her win to those in her native country of Ukraine.
“Being in the position that I’m in right now, it’s extremely special to win this title,” she said in Texas. “I want to dedicate this title to Ukraine and to all the people who are fighting and dying right now. It’s a very special moment, no matter when it happens.”
The final also resulted in some awkward scenes as Kostyuk refused to shake her opponents hand or appear in any presentation photographs alongside Gracheva. It was after the final that Kostyuk says she saw a video online which made her ‘sick for three days’.
Kostyuk played for Ukraine in their 3-1 defeat to the Czech Republic in the Billie Jean King Cup first round last week and spoke about the experience. She said: “A series of shocking events just float past me. But there’s one that’s completely overwhelmed and paralyzed me.
“It made me sick for three days. When I won the trophy in Austin, I said in my thank-you speech, ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ And then I saw a video of our soldier digging his own grave and saying the same salute. Whereupon he is executed. He was killed for using the same words that I used.”
The world no.32 has refused to shake the hands of her Russian opponents on several occasions and said there was “tension” between players from the two nations. Kostyuk has been amongst a group of players who have been appealing to the tennis authorities to have Russian and Belarusian tennis players banned from playing tournaments alongside them.
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However, tennis authorities have continued to allow players from Russia and their allies Belarus to compete under a neutral banner since they invaded Ukraine over a year ago. Wimbledon made the move to block athletes from both countries from competing last year, but have since reversed the decision after facing punishment from the tennis authorities.
Wimbledon chiefs have been accused of “handing Putin a victory” by allowing Russian players at this year’s tournament. Writing exclusively in the Daily Express, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba blasted tennis chiefs by accusing them of “lacking courage”.
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