|Venue: All England Club Dates: 3-16 July|
|Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and online with extensive coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app. More coverage details here.|
Belarusian Victoria Azarenka says “it wasn’t fair” she was booed off court by Wimbledon fans after losing a thriller to Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina.
Svitolina has not shaken hands with Russians or Belarusians after matches since the war in Ukraine started.
She has made her position clear many times but, after not meeting Azarenka at the net, it was the Belarusian who was jeered as she left Court One.
“What should I have done? Stayed and waited?” Azarenka asked reporters.
“She doesn’t want to shake hands with Russian, Belarusian people. I respected her decision.”
In front of a Wimbledon crowd giving her thunderous vocal support, wildcard Svitolina won a superb match 2-6 6-4 7-6 (11-9) to reach the quarter-finals.
After Svitolina took her first match point with an ace, Azarenka gave a respectful wave of her hand at the Ukrainian who did not respond.
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.
Svitolina, 28, said she “could not really answer” if she was surprised at the hostile reaction of the British crowd to Azarenka.
Last month at the French Open, Svitolina was booed when she walked off court after not shaking hands with Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka following a quarter-final defeat.
“I feel like each player that loses, and there is no handshake, is getting booed,” said Svitolina, who only returned to playing three months ago after giving birth to daughter Skai in October.
“I think the tennis organisations have to come out with a statement that there will be no handshake between Russian/Belarusian and Ukrainian players.
“I don’t know if it’s maybe unclear for people.
“I already said multiple times that until Russian troops are out of Ukraine and we take back our territories, I’m not going to shake hands.
“I have clear statement. I don’t know how more clear I can be.”
The reaction to Azarenka was a remarkable end to a gripping contest and the former world number one hoped people would instead focus on the quality of the pair’s tennis.
“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,” she added.
“It was a tennis match. Nobody’s changing lives here. We are playing tennis. We’re doing our jobs. That’s it.”