Victoria Azarenka branded Wimbledon fans “drunk” and not “fair” after she was booed off court following a fourth-round loss to Elina Svitolina.
It was the first clash between a Russian or Belarusian player and a Ukrainian at Wimbledon since the lifting of last year’s ban on competitors from the aggressor nations.
The crowd, who had been overwhelmingly behind Svitolina throughout, produced a deafening roar when she clinched an epic 2-6 6-4 7-6 (11-9) victory.
However, after the match, Svitolina did not meet Azarenka at the net to shake hands but it was the Belarusian who was jeered as she left Court One.
“What should I have done? Stayed and waited?” Azarenka asked in a post-match interview.
“She doesn’t want to shake hands with Russian, Belarusian people. I respected her decision.”
Hearing the jeers as she walked off Court One, 33-year-old Azarenka paused as if to ask why and made a gesture to the spectators before disappearing.
“I thought it was a great match. If people are going to be focusing only on handshakes or crowd, quite drunk crowd, booing in the end, that’s a shame,” the two-time Grand Slam winner added.
“It was a tennis match. Nobody’s changing lives here. We are playing tennis. We’re doing our jobs. That’s it.”