A Cincinnati Open fan with a Ukrainian flag was forced 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 grounds following “aggressive” encounters with security officials, as she received threats that the police would be called.
It has emerged that a Russian tennis star got a spectator removed from a qualifying match 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 made a complaint about Lola to the chair umpire. Lola was also wearing a Ukrainian floral wreath crown known as a vinok and was watching the match silently, making no disruption.
Following the complaint, WTA umpire Morgane Lara approached Lola and said it was “not nice” to have the flag at 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 marshals who was standing on the court became “aggressive” and threatened to call the police if she did not leave the stands
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Express Sport requested a comment from the Western & Southern Open, who cited the flag rule in their response. “Per the Western & Southern Open’s bag policy, as stated on the tournament’s website, flags or banners larger than 18 x 18 are prohibited. 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 with no mention of 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.