'18 months too late': Azarenka speaks out about no-handshake announcement at DC Open

Victoria Azarenka has spoken out about the decision at the DC Open to announce there would be no handshake in her match against Elina Svitolina.

Belarusian player Victoria Azarenka and Ukrainian player Elina Svitolina have faced each other twice on the court in recent weeks. The first time was at Wimbledon where Svitolina took the victory after an almost three-hour long three-set match, winning 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (9).

Following on from this, the two women played against each other again in the opening round of the DC Open, where the 28-year-old won once again, this time in straight sets 7-6 (2), 6-4.

Announcement comes after boos at Wimbledon

Outside of the thrilling head-to-head, the first match between Svitolina and the former world No. 1 has been remembered for a more unpleasant reason, as Azarenka was booed off the court after no handshake took place between the two players.

This was despite the fact that Svitolina had made her stance clear prior to the match about not shaking hands with Russian or Belarusian players as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is supported by Belarus. This is the position taken by most Ukrainian players at the moment as the conflict in their home country continues.

The boos sparked off a debate about whether or not the WTA should intervene to ensure audience members are aware of the official situation around handshakes. Svitolina herself even got involved, asking Wimbledon and the WTA to tell people what is going on beforehand.

While the SW19 declined to do so and the WTA as a whole released a statement, the DC Open did decide to announce before the match that there would be no handshake.

Azarenka says it is '18 months too late'

Whilst the announcement seemed to be effective in ensuring Azarenka was not booed off the court at the WTA 500 event, the 34-year-old had a subdued reaction to the decision.

Firstly, she made it clear that she has no hard feelings toward Svitolina for not shaking her hand,

"I don't care. I mean, how long are we going to talk about that, really? I mean, it's just, to me, I don't care. We just move on. We play tennis match. As I said in Wimbledon, I accept, respect somebody's position. That's it. No more."

Secondly, on the announcement itself, Azarenka suggested it could have been useful to have implemented such a system earlier,

"Well, I think we are about how many, 18 months too late with making this? So, happy? I don't know."

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