|Dates: May 28 – June 11 Premises: Roland Garros, Paris|
|Reception: Live text and radio commentary on selected matches on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, on the BBC Sport website and app|
Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk said “people should be ashamed” after being booed off court following her first-round loss to Aryna Sabalenka at the French Open.
Kostiuk avoided a handshake with second seed Sabalenka after the Belarusian won 6-3, 6-2.
Belarus is an ally of Russia and allowed its troops to use its territory to launch last year’s invasion of Ukraine.
Sabalenka said that Kostiuk “didn’t deserve to get off the court like that”.
The couple did not have the traditional pre-match photo after the coin toss. After Australian Open champion Sabalenka sealed the victory, Kostiuk went straight to shake the referee’s hand and then to her chair, which drew boos from the crowd at the Philippe-Chatrier court.
“People should be sincerely ashamed,” said world number 28 Kostiuk.
The 20-year-old added: “I want to see how people will react to this in 10 years, when the war is over. I don’t think they’re going to feel good about what they’ve done.”
Sabalenka was surprised by the initial boo, thinking it was directed at her before realizing it was aimed at Kostyuk when the crowd booed again as the Ukrainian left the court.
“It was a very tough match, emotionally difficult,” Sabalenka said in her court interview.
“I thought the booing was against me, so I was a little surprised. But then I felt your support.”
“She should speak for herself” – Kostiuk criticizes Sabalenka
Before the match, Sabalenka – who has repeatedly said on previous occasions that “nobody supports the war” – said understandable if Kostiuk “hates” her.
Kostiuk refused to shake hands with Belarusian Victoria Azarence at last year’s US Open and also said seeing Russian flags waved by supporters of Vladimir Putin at the Australian Open in January “it hurt a lot”.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, Sabalenka passionately said: “I have said this many, many times about the war situation: no one in this world, Russian athletes or Belarusian athletes, supports the war. Nobody. How can we support the war?
“Of course we do not support war. If we could influence the war in any way, if we could stop it, we would. But unfortunately it’s not in our hands.”
However, Kostyuk criticized Sabalenka for not explicitly saying she opposed the war, and urged her to use her “great platform” after “dismissing her responsibility”.
“She never says she doesn’t personally support this war,” Kostiuk said.
“I think she should speak for herself first and foremost. Then talk about all the other athletes, because I personally know tennis players who support the war.
“To say nobody, I think is a bit strong because I think you can only speak for yourself.”
Sabalenka is one of the favorites for the Roland Garros title and may become number one in the world if Iga Świątek does not advance to the quarter-finals.
After Sabalenka’s shaky start with two double faults, Kostiuk had his first stoppage, but this seemed to shock the 25-year-old and force him to find another level.
She immediately broke to begin a devastating streak of six consecutive games for which Kostiuk had no answer.
Although she withdrew the match, Sabalenka continued to lead the game, saving two break points in what turned out to be her last serve as she completed the victory on her first match point.
In the second round in Paris, she will face a player from Belarus, Iryna Szymanowicz.