A Ukrainian-flagged Cincinnati Open fan had to leave a match when a Russian tennis player complained. The spectator in question was later forced to put the flag in her car or be removed from the premises after “aggressive” encounters with security officials, as she received threats that the police would be called.
It has emerged that a Russian tennis star had a spectator removed from a qualifier at the Western & Southern Open because they were draped in a Ukrainian flag. The fan in question – Lola – was confronted by a WTA umpire and Cincinnati tournament security on two separate occasions.
In the first set of the all-Russian clash between Anna Kalinskaya and Anastasia Potapova on Court 8, one of the players filed a complaint about Lola with the chair umpire. Lola also wore a Ukrainian flower garland known as a vinok and watched the match in silence, without any disturbance.
Following the complaint, WTA umpire Morgane Lara approached Lola and said it was “not nice” to have the flag in the stands, as the fan hit back that it was “not nice to invade a country”. And things escalated when one of the tournament’s security officers on the field became “aggressive” and threatened to call the police if she didn’t leave the stands.
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Express Sport asked for comment from the Western & Southern Open, who cited the flag rule in their response. “Under the Western & Southern Open bag policy, as stated on the tournament website, no flags or banners larger than 18 x 18 are allowed. As such, the woman was asked to return her oversized flag to her vehicle,” a statement read.
Russian and Belarusian tennis players have been competing as neutrals without mentioning their country or flag since March 1, when the ATP, WTA and ITF released a joint statement announcing the news in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.
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