Ukrainian tennis player Anhelina Kalinina refused to shake hands with Veronika Kudermetova, her Russian opponent, after winning the semi-final first round of the Rome Masters in Italy on Friday.
Speaking to reporters after the match at Foro Italico in Rome, Kalinina said: “We didn’t shake hands because the girl is from Russia. It’s no secret why I didn’t tremble, because this country is actually attacking Ukraine.
“So yes, it’s sport, I understand, but it’s also kind of a political thing. So, yes, it’s nothing personal. But in general, yes, it’s not acceptable.
Kudermetova was asked about her relationship with Kalinina and the influence of “political overtones” and replied: “I mean, here we are athletes. We are here and we love what we do here. It doesn’t matter which country you come from. We are athletes and that’s it. We are here to play tennis.
Kalinina denied that her opponent’s nationality influenced the topsy-turvy nature of the match, describing Kudermetova as “a top player, a very great player. It was for tennis. »
Kalinina, who entered the tournament ranked 47th in the world against Kudermetova ranked 12th, won in straight sets 7-5 5-7 6-2.
The 26-year-old Ukrainian was asked about her family, who currently live in Kyiv, and revealed that a bomb went off near the tennis academy where her parents work. She also said her grandparents finally left Nova Kakhovka, her hometown, after an explosion near their house.
In her on-pitch interview after the game, Kalinina said: “For me it’s also very important for me to win every game, because you know, what Ukraine is going through, I just want to say I really hope give a little bit of light and perhaps some positive emotions for my country.
Kalinina will face either Elena Rybakina in Saturday’s final. Rybakina was born in Russia but has represented Kazakhstan since 2018.