Victoria Azarenka has been booed off the court at Wimbledon after she was defeated by Elina Svitolina.
After more than two and a half hours of playing, Svitolina beat Azarenka in a tight game, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (11 - 9).
The intensity of the game was heightened by the fact that Azarenka, who is from Belarus, was up against Svitolina, who is Ukrainian.
Belarus has become a very close ally of Russia throughout their invasion of Ukraine.
Due to these ongoing political tensions between the countries, Svitolina did not shake hands with Azarenka at the end of the game despite Azarenka offering her hand.
The Ukrainian had spoken to BCC Sport, prior to the game, about her decision to not shake hands with any player from Russia or Belarus in protest of the invasion.
While an emotional Svitolina was met with cheers as she thanked the crowd after her victory, Azarenka faced loud boos.
In response to the boos from the crowd, Azarenka made a gesture with her two fists, clenching them both together and raising them in the air as the boos got louder.
Speaking to the press after the game, Azarenka said that she didn't know what the gesture meant.
“I actually have no idea,” she told reporters, “I won’t even be able to duplicate what I did.”
“You can’t control the crowd,” she said.
“I’m not sure a lot of people were understanding what was happening.”
The former World Number One also said that she respected Svitolina’s decision to not shake hands
“What should I have done, stayed and waited? There’s nothing I could’ve done that would’ve been right so I just did what I thought was respectful towards her," she said.
“I thought it was a great tennis match and if people are going to keep focusing only on handshakes or crowds, a quite drunk crowd booing in the end, then that’s a shame.”
For Svitolina though, the booing sound from the crowd was the least of her concerns as she celebrated her victory.
“In my own way, to bring this victory, small victory, to Ukraine,” said Svitolina in her post-game press conference.
“If I'm going out to play this match against Russian, Belarusian, I feel of course more pressure that I need to win.”
“I think after giving birth,” said Svitolina.
“This is the happiest moment of my life.”
Svitolina gave birth to her daughter in October after taking time off from the sport back in March 2022.
She is set to face World Number One Iga Światek in the Quarter Final on Tuesday.