Wimbledon: Victoria Azarenka called Wimbledon fans “drunk” and “unfair” after being booed off the court after losing in the fourth round against Elina Svitolina.
It was the first meeting between a Russian or Belarussian player and a Ukrainian at Wimbledon since the ban on competitors from hostile countries was lifted last year.
The fans, which had been immensely supportive of Svitolina throughout, erupted in a thunderous shout as she completed an amazing 2-6 6-4 7-6 (11-9) triumph.
The former world No. 3 had been booed at the French Open for refusing to shake hands with Russian and Belarussian opponents, but it was Azarenka, who held her hand up to recognise Svitolina before leaving the court, who was booed.
It was unclear whether the fans believed she had snubbed her opponent, and Azarenka gave a long, lingering glare before slamming her hands together in frustration as she walked away.
“I can’t keep control of the crowd,” she said. “I’m not sure a lot of people understood what was going on. Throughout the day, there has most likely been a lot of Pimm’s. It wasn’t right. What should I do?
“It’s been pretty consistent for the last 18-19 months. I haven’t done anything wrong, yet I occasionally get different treatment.
“She refuses to shake hands with Russian or Belarussian people. I appreciated her choice. What should I have done instead? Have you stayed and waited? There was nothing I could have done that would have been proper, so I just did what I believed was appropriate in light of her choice.
“However, this is not a life-changing conversation about shaking hands. So, if you want to keep talking about it, bring it up, make it a big issue, generate headlines, whatever it is, go ahead.
“I thought it was an outstanding tennis match. It’s a pity if people are just interested in handshakes or a very inebriated audience booing at the end.”
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