Australian Open: Kotliar’s Apology Shaking Hands with Russian Opponent at Australian Open

Australian Open: Kotliar's Apology Shaking Hands with Russian Opponent at Australian Open

Ukrainian junior tennis player Yelyzaveta Kotliar has issued a heartfelt apology after facing criticism from her national tennis federation for shaking hands with her Russian opponent, Vlada Mincheva, at the Australian Open.

The incident occurred during the first round of the girls’ tournament, defying an unwritten rule among Ukrainian players to refrain from congratulating Russian and Belarusian opponents due to the ongoing conflict in their homeland.

The Ukraine Tennis Federation labeled Kotliar’s handshake as an “unpleasant incident,” reinforcing its stance that Ukrainian players should avoid handshakes with representatives of “aggressor countries.” In a statement, the federation stated that leading players had been informed about this policy, and Kotliar’s action was deemed a “mistake.”

Kotliar, who is 16 years old, received support from her father, Konstantin Kotliar, who mentioned that his daughter was not thinking clearly in a pressure situation. He emphasized her lack of experience in major competitions, particularly Grand Slam tournaments, which are the pinnacle of both professional and youth tennis.

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In a statement on behalf of his daughter, Konstantin Kotliar stated, “She performed a post-match ritual, shook the hand of the opponent, did not understand that behind the net was a representative of the country who attacked our homeland. It was definitely a mistake that she is deeply sorry (for) and assures that she will never allow anything like this again.”

The controversy surrounding handshakes between Ukrainian and Russian players has gained attention during the Australian Open. Lesia Tsurenko, the 28th seed in the women’s main draw, spoke out earlier in the tournament, characterizing the handshake snub as part of the players’ protest against Russia. Tsurenko emphasized the ongoing war in her country and stated, “This is the right thing to do, and I do this for Ukraine.” According to source Timesofindia

The incident reflects the complex intersection of sports and geopolitics, with athletes finding themselves entangled in the larger context of international conflicts.

Shrabani Sarkar

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