Marta Kostyuk declines handshake with Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka

Kostyuk is a Kyiv native who still has friends and family living in Ukraine, which is in its seventh month of trying to push back Russian and Belarusian forces.

The coldest end to a match at the US Open came at Court 17 on Thursday, where Victoria Azarenka of Belarus defeated Ukrainian player Marta Kostyuk in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3.

For her part, Azarenka told reporters after the match she had reached out to the WTA to have conversations with Ukrainian athletes but was rebuffed. She said she never had a close relationship with Kostyuk, but sent messages of support to other Ukrainian players she knew in March and would be willing to meet face-to-face with Kostyuk.

Azarenka, who called for peace soon after Russia’s invasion, was one of several Russian and Belarusian players to be banned from Wimbledon in response to the war.

As the second-round match concluded, Kostyuk approached the net and only offered her racket to the celebrating Azarenka, who obliged with a quick tap with her own racket before the pair shook hands with the chair umpire.

It was a quick moment, but a prime example of how the war in Ukraine is still being felt in the sports world.

Kostyuk, ranked No. 65 in the world, has been outspoken about the war in Ukraine, in which Belarus has closely allied with Russia in an unprovoked attack on their neighbor, and a perceived silence from the Russian and Ukrainian players on the tour.

Azarenka is scheduled to face Petra Martić in the third round on Saturday.