Wimbledon won’t be making announcements on handshake etiquette despite booing


WIMBLEDON, England—Wimbledon is staying out of the politics of handshakes.

Elina Svitolina of Ukraine had urged tennis authorities to publicize that Ukrainians won’t be shaking hands with Russian and Belarusian players after matches—so that fans don’t boo because they think some players are being snubbed.

“We’ve no intention of doing that,” Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton said Monday.

Fans on No. 1 Court booed Belarusian player Victoria Azarenka after she didn’t go to the net to shake hands with Svitolina after the Ukrainian player’s victory on Sunday.

Azarenka knew that Svitolina doesn’t shake hands with Russians and Belarusians—in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—and instead waved to her. She later said she was trying to be “respectful towards her decision.”

Second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus echoed Svitolina’s call for an announcement “so players will not leave court with so much hate…. It would be good for the crowd to actually know what’s going on. There is a reason behind no handshake.”

Bolton, however, said there won’t be any instruction to Wimbledon umpires to make announcements about handshakes.

“Historically in tennis the decision on how a player reacts at the end of a match is entirely a personal decision for them and I think we don’t really want to start mandating what happens,” Bolton said. “We have an incredibly knowledgeable audience at Wimbledon and I think in the most part they would understand what was going on. I wouldn’t want to speculate on what everybody in the crowd was thinking last night.”

At the French Open, it was the other way around for Ukrainian players. Marta Kostyuk was booed when she didn’t shake hands with Sabalenka. Svitolina said she was also booed in Paris.

Russian player Daniil Medvedev, who moved into the quarterfinals on Monday, said Azarenka being booed was a “big misunderstanding.” In a big crowd, he said, there’s bound to be people who don’t know the details.

“It’s a pity for sure for her that she got booed, and probably for no reason,” the third-seeded Medvedev said. “But I think the people didn’t know the story behind it, and that’s why it happened.”

Jessica Pegula, meanwhile, has reached the quarterfinals in five of her last 10 major tournaments. Making it past that point has been an issue.

The 29-year-old American gets another shot at the semifinals when she faces Marketa Vondrousova at Wimbledon on Tuesday.

Winning in the fourth round at Wimbledon this year means the fourth-seeded Pegula has reached the quarterfinals at each of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

“To say that I’ve done that at all four is something I’ve wanted to say. Obviously I hope I can do more than that,” Pegula said.

Vondrousova, the runner-up at the 2019 French Open, has knocked off three seeded opponents in a row ahead of Tuesday’s match on No. 1 Court.

In the other women’s quarterfinals match on Tuesday, top-ranked Iga Swiatek of Poland faces Elina Svitolina of Ukraine. Svitolina said she is “really thankful” for Swiatek’s support of Ukrainians. 

On Centre Court, though, Svitolina hopes to keep her momentum going. The 2019 semifinalist at Wimbledon had a baby last October and returned to the tour this April. She advanced Sunday by beating two-time major champion Victoria Azarenka.

Swiatek claimed her fourth major title at the French Open last month, but this is her first time into the quarterfinals at the All England Club.

Seven-time champion Novak Djokovic will be back at Centre Court—his third day in a row—to face Andrey Rublev for a spot in the semifinals. The 23-time Grand Slam champion is trying to tie Roger Federer’s record of eight men’s titles at Wimbledon.

The other men’s quarterfinals match is eighth-seeded Jannik Sinner against Roman Safiullin on No. 1 Court.

Image credits: AP

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