In a headline moment at the US Open, Maryna Zanevska, the Ukraine-born Belgian tennis player, chose to forgo the customary post-match handshake with her opponent, Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus, after suffering a 6-3, 6-2 defeat. Zanevska had previously announced her retirement due to a persistent injury, making this match a significant chapter in her tennis career.
Zanevska’s decision to snub the handshake was a poignant gesture of solidarity with her homeland, Ukraine, where her family still resides. This move reflects a growing trend among Ukrainian athletes who have chosen not to shake hands with opponents from Russia or Belarus since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, amid the many stand-offs between the players of these countries.
She said, “I know I’m representing Belgium but all my family are in Ukraine.” Zanevska further emphasized in a resolute voice, “If I shake her hand, it will be the same if I spit in the face of my relatives.” Her refusal to shake Sabalenka’s hand was fueled by a belief that Sabalenka had not taken a stand against the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Last night Belgian Maryna Zanevska refused to shake Sabalenkas hand at at the end of the match as she was born in Ukraine.
Do these players know that Sabalenka has nothing to do with the war right?pic.twitter.com/7uaIOZNn5W
— Pavvy G (@pavyg) August 30, 2023
Zanevska, however, made it clear that she respected Sabalenka as a tennis player. Zanevska’s actions reflected her deep personal commitment to her family, facing crisis in Ukraine. “It’s my personal decision about not shaking the hand of someone who couldn’t step up,” Zanevska explained. She concluded, “I don’t judge her. She’s protecting her family, but I’m protecting my family.” As she exited, Zanevska faced booing from the audience.
“It was not the best way of leaving the court because people were booing, but I was ready for that,” she admitted. Sabalenka, the reigning Australian Open champion will proceed to the next round, while Zanevska, with her head high leaves the tennis world, having made a statement that transcended sports, reminding us of the deep personal ties that often shape a player’s actions on and off the court.
Aryna Sabalenka continues with a record number of wins
Aryna Sabalenka, the second seed in the women’s singles at the US Open, continues to rewrite the record books with her stellar performance on the WTA Tour this season. In a dominating display, she overpowered Clara Burel 6-1, 6-1 in an hour to book her place in the US Open fourth round.
In the process, Sabalenka secured her 47th win of the season, setting a new personal record. Her previous best was 46 wins back in 2018. With a 47-10 win-loss record in 2023, she has showcased her prowess on the court.
Notably, Sabalenka’s success extends to the Grand Slam stage, where she boasts a remarkable 20-2 record this year. She clinched the Australian Open title and made impressive semi-final appearances at both the French Open and Wimbledon. Her Grand Slam win-loss tally now stands at 56-21, underscoring her proficiency in major tournaments.
Too easy for Aryna! 🇧🇾⚡️
The Race no. 1 defeats Clara Burel with a 6-1 6-1 and moves to the second week of the #USOpen for the third consecutive year.
Sabalenka has lost only 12 games so far.
4-0 in R3 in New York. 👀 pic.twitter.com/EvENejbYKX
— Relevant Tennis (@RelevantTennis) September 2, 2023
At the US Open, Sabalenka’s dominance was evident as she secured her 18th win in Flushing Meadows, where she has been a consistent force. This marks her fourth appearance in the fourth round at the US Open, a testament to her ability to perform under pressure on the biggest stage.
In the upcoming fourth-round clash, the second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka will face Daria Kasatkina, the 13th seed. Sabalenka holds a 4-2 head-to-head record against Kasatkina, including a recent 6-3, 6-3 victory in the Cincinnati third round just two weeks ago.
As Sabalenka continues her impressive run, her fans eagerly anticipate her next challenge and the possibility of further records in her remarkable season.