“It seems to me that I’m not doing enough for our victory. I don’t feel useful enough to the country at this time, although I’m trying to do something.”
That says the Ukrainian tennis player Marta Kostyuk (20). Her words reflect the dilemma she is in. As she travels the world playing tennis, the people of her homeland have been suffering from the war since Russia attacked on February 24, 2022. “We have an entire nation in our state. When you realize that, your blood freezes in your veins,” she says.
A week ago, Kostyuk won her first tournament on the WTA tour. In the final in Austin (USA) she defeated her Russian opponent Varvara Gracheva (22).
After that, Kostyuk refused to shake hands with the Russian, declined to take a photo with her and didn’t say a word about her in the victory speech.
In an interview with the Ukrainian FA, the world No. 40 justified her stance: “Varvara has neither personally nor publicly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine or the actions of the authorities in their country. To me that is a sure sign that she supports the war in her soul.”
Kostyuk does not compromise when dealing with her Russian and Belarusian opponents. “I don’t even say hello to them.”
If Kostyuk has his way, other players should follow suit. “I was upset with the reaction from the tennis world. Look what Nadal and Djokovic said. How can we get support from the tour when the best players talk like that?”
Background: The superstars Rafael Nadal (36) and Novak Djokovic (35) advocated a start by Russians and Belarusians on the tour.
Even far away from Ukraine, she is repeatedly confronted with the war. When Russia attacked Ukraine, her mother Talyna and younger sister Zoryana were still in Kiev. They now also live in Monaco, where Kostyuk lives. She says, “If a plane flies overhead, they’re still scared.”