Fan told Ukraine flag too big after apparent complaint from Russian player – The Guardian

The size of the Ukraine flag that a fan draped around her during a match at the Cincinnati Open on Monday was the reason she was asked to remove it from the grounds, tournament officials told Reuters on Tuesday.

During a qualifying match between Russian players Anna Kalinskaya and Anastasia Potapova on Sunday, one of the players reportedly complained to the WTA referee Morgane Lara about the fan.

The fan was later interviewed by local television station WKRC. She gave her name as Lola and said she was an American originally from Uzbekistan.

“We had our Ukrainian flag, not doing anything crazy, distracting players, but wrapped around it, sitting there peacefully and quietly,” she said.

Lola said the referee then came to speak to her. “The message I got was that it upsets Russian players. I said, ‘I’m not putting it away.’ They kept playing for a minute or two. Then they stopped the game again, and then the security guard came up to me and said, ‘Ma’am, I’m going to call the cops if you don’t leave.’

The tournament said the size of the flag, rather than its origin, was the problem.

“Per the Western & Southern Open bag policy, as stated on the tournament website, flags or banners larger than 18 x 18 are prohibited,” a tournament spokesperson said in an email. “Therefore, the patron was asked to remove the flag from the ground and after doing so was allowed to remain at the tournament. Any questions about the chair umpire should be directed to the WTA Tour.”

Also, anyone who was at #CincyTennis will know that similar sized flags have been happily waved and displayed around the stadiums here for years, most often American and Serbian flags.

This is not a policy that has ever been carried out with any regularity.

– Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 15, 2022

The WTA Tour did not respond to a request for comment. Ben Rothenberg, editor-in-chief at Racquet Magazine and a veteran reporter on the tennis circuit, said similar-sized flags were regularly displayed at the tournament without repercussions.

“Anyone who was at #CincyTennis will know that similar sized flags have been happily waved and displayed around the stadiums here for years, most often American and Serbian flags,” he wrote on Twitter.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February. In response, Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarusian players from the tournament this year. The US Open, which begins on August 29, will allow players from those countries to compete and will host a tournament-long campaign to raise awareness and humanitarian aid for Ukraine with the goal of raising $2 million in emergency aid, the US. Tennis Association said last week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.