Russia-Ukraine conflict: Fans warned Elena Svitolina and Victoria Azarenka would not shake hands at DC Open

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Spectators at the DC Open were warned that Ukraine’s Elena Svitolina would not shake hands with Victoria Azarenka.

During the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Svitolina has refused to shake hands with opponents from Russia or Belarus.

Belarusian Azarenka was booed after Svitolina beat her at Wimbledon and to avoid a repeat, the scoreboard showed a message during Svitolina’s 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 first-round win in Washington DC.

“It’s the right thing,” said world number 27 Svitolina.

“I asked for the WTA [Women’s Tennis Association] to respect the decision of Ukrainians and they did.”

At the end of the match, both players headed straight to the sidelines and the umpire.

Two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka, playing on her 34th birthday, said the warning to fans had arrived “18 months too late” and asked whether it was a big story.

“We just move on. We play a tennis match. As I said in Wimbledon, I accept, respect somebody’s position. That’s it,” she added.

Both players had failed to clinch the first set on their own serve before Wimbledon semi-finalist Svitolina won it in a tie-break.

The message was shown after the first set, and there was just one hold of serve in the second as 28-year-old Svitolina sealed victory over the world number 19.

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