It was a dominant win for the world No 2 to begin her Roland Garros campaign, which could see her become world number one, but it came against a player who “hates” her.
Kostyuk has been the most outspoken Ukrainian player about the sport’s response to the invasion of her home country by Russia and believes Russian and Belarusian players should have been willing to condemn their nations’ actions.
She refuses to shake hands with players from the two countries at the end of matches, and it was no different against Sabalenka, who raced to a 6-3, 6-2 victory in an hour and 11 minutes.
Kostyuk marched to the net after the final point, shaking hands with the umpire before grabbing her bags to return to the changing rooms.
And the move prompted booing and whistling from the Roland Garros crowd, while Kostyuk shook her finger at the crowd on her way off court following a hostile reception for her decision.
Sabalenka appeared unsure whether the gesture was directed at her, but the fans then cheered for her before jeering Kostyuk when she walked off.
Sabalenka said after the match: “It was a very tough match, tough emotionally. I didn’t know if the booing was against me but thank you so much for your support, it’s really important.”
While the Belarusian had accepted Kostyuk’s decision ahead of the match too.
“I kind of can understand them,” Sabalenka said ahead of the match when quizzed on Ukrainian players refusing to shake hands with Russian and Belarusian players. “I imagine (if) they’re going to shake hands with Russians and Belarusians then they’re going to get so many messages from their home country. At the same time, I feel like sports shouldn’t be in politics.
“We’re just athletes. If they feel good with no shaking hands, I’m happy with that.
“I don’t want to waste my energy on this kind of stuff. It’s none of my business. So, if she hates me, OK. I can’t do anything about that.
“There is going to be people who love me, there is going to be people who hate me. If she hates me, I don’t feel anything like that to her.”