The favorites to win a Roland Garros without Nadal 2:25
(CNN) -- Ukrainian tennis player Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with Belarusian rival Aryna Sabalenka after their first-round match at the French Open, prompting boos from the crowd.
After Sabalenka prevailed 6-3, 6-2, Kostyuk went straight to the referee to shake her hand and then returned to his seat, refusing to meet Sabalenka at the net for the usual handshake.
The Roland Garros crowd booed Kostyuk again when he left the court.
Kostyuk, originally from Kyiv, declared at the Australian Open in January that she would not shake hands with any Russian or Belarusian rivals while a war was raging in her country.
- With Rafael Nadal absent and Iga Swiatek's dominance threatened, the French Open is hard to predict.
Kostyuk was booed as she left the track. (Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Sabalenka faced some tough questions at her post-match press conference, including from a journalist who accused her of "misrepresenting the situation as if Ukrainians hated it" and of "avoiding" questions asking her to condemn the war, as Belarus is being used as a key arena for Russia's war in Ukraine.
Sabalenka said in March that she struggled to understand the "hatred" she found in the locker room amid strained relations between some players following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"First of all, when they ask me about Ukrainians, [journalists] ask me, 'So, you know they hate you? So I answer the questions: 'If they hate me.'
"On the war situation, I have said it many, many times, nobody in this world — Russian athletes, Belarusians — supports war. Nobody. How can we support war? Normal people will never support her."
"Why do we have to speak up [in public] and say things, it's like saying 'one plus one is two,' you know, of course we don't support war. And if we could affect the war in any way, if we could stop it, we would, but unfortunately it's not in our hands."
- Nadal, Djokovic and Murray criticise Wimbledon's decision to ban Russian and Belarusian tennis players
Sabalenka advanced to the second round in straight sets. (Credit: Christophe Ena/AP)
Sabalenka later added that she understands why Ukrainian players don't shake her hand and said Kostyuk didn't deserve to be booed by the crowd.
Today, Russian and Belarusian players continue to compete in major competitions as neutral athletes, without displaying their flag or country.
After winning the Texas ATX Open in March, Kostyuk also refused to shake hands with his defeated Russian rival, Varvara Gracheva.
French OpenWar in Ukraine