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LONDONERS THE NEW PARISIANS?



This Wimbledon has further fuelled fire on the deplorable behaviour by English crowds at internationally renowned sporting events over the past month.

It started at Lord’s after Alex Carey showed brilliant awareness to stump Jonny Bairstow in the second Ashes test, when enraged members of the illustrious Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC, and owners of the ground) abused the Australians as they made their way through the famous Long Room.

The atmosphere at the stadium has always been indicated as polite, with the prestige of the venue of the highest ebb, but that didn’t stop the pompous, entitled members turning into a primitive state when the men in baggy green caps walked through.

Three men would be suspended for their actions, which has left a bad taste in the mouths of many since.

Down in the South of London in the quaint little suburb of Wimbledon is the year’s third major, that prestige continues as the Slam with most history and the one that most players dream of playing in, let alone winning.

An influx of tennis-loving fanatics grace the All England Club every year by either enjoying the fruits of a successful ballot selection or by queuing for days on end to see their favourite stars set foot onto some of the most hallowed turf in sport.

However, the fourth round clash between Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina and Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka saw the crowd act in a Long Room type way, showing a complete lack of political awareness when there was no handshake after the contest.

The match was epic, with Svitolina continuing her stunning run of form post maternity leave to overcome her opponent in a 2-6 6-4 7-6 classic that saw the former No.3 save a match point in the match tiebreak.

After the last point was played, Azarenka went to the net and gave Svitolina a thumbs up for her performance in what has become the norm of late with Ukrainians refusing to shake the hands of Russian and Belarusian players due to the ongoing war.

The two-time major champion simply respected her opponent’s position and showed her congratulations in the way that she saw fit, but for some reason a chorus of booing commenced towards the 33-year-old, who in turn returned serve with a gesture of displeasure towards the stands.

“I can't control the crowd," she said.

“I'm not sure that a lot of people were understanding what's happening. It's probably been a lot of Pimm's throughout the day. It wasn't fair. What can I do?

“I feel like it's been pretty consistent for the last 18, 19 months. I haven't done anything wrong but I keep getting different treatment sometimes.

“She doesn't want to shake hands with Russian, Belarusian people. I respected her decision. What should I have done? Stayed and waited?

“There's nothing that I could do that would have been right, so I just did what I thought was respectful towards her decision.

“I thought it was a great tennis match. If people are going to be focusing only on handshakes or a quite drunk crowd, booing in the end, that's a shame.”

She makes a sensational point, what was she to do?

It is not like the conversation had not been had recently, and Svitolina and her compatriot Marta Kostyuk endured fan anger at Roland Garros when they refused to shake hands with Russian or Belarusian opponents.

Speaking after her win, the Ukrainian addressed possible moves that tournaments or the tours themselves could make to avoid any such nonsense from ensuing further.


“I got the same in Paris. I played three matches in Paris in this way,” she said.


“For me personally, I think the tennis organisations have to come out with a statement that there will be no handshake between Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian players.


“I don't know if it's maybe not clear for people. Some people not really know what is happening. So I think this is the right way to go."


Maybe that is the next course for tournament organisers, but it really should not have come to this complete lack of global awareness, or in fact continental awareness.

But until then, the recent events in London have tarnished crowd reputations within one of the world’s most iconic cities at two of the most fine sporting venues in the world.

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