Ukraine’s Kostyuk dedicates first tennis title to war victims

Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk won her first WTA title Sunday with victory over Russia’s Varvara Gracheva and dedicated it to her country and “all the people who are fighting and dying”.

The 20-year-old Kostyuk collapsed to the court sobbing after winning the final of the ATX Open in Austin, Texas 6-3, 7-5.

The 52nd-ranked Kostyuk told the victory ceremony: “Being in the position that I am in right now, it’s extremely special to win this title.

“I want to dedicate this title to Ukraine and to all the people who¬†are fighting and dying right now.”

After applause and cheers, Kostyuk added: “Obviously it’s a very special moment, no matter when it happens.”

Kostyuk has previously been outspoken about the tennis world’s response to the Russian invasion of her homeland, saying anti-war platitudes weren’t enough.

At the Australian Open in January, Kostyuk said it had been “very upsetting” to see Novak Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, posing there alongside a Russian flag with President Vladimir Putin’s face on it.

Kostyuk refused to shake hands at the US Open with Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year saw them and allies Belarus become outcasts in world sport.

bur-pst/dh

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