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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.
Video of some of this incident surfaced hours later on social media, via @trashytennispic.twitter.com/bYlFL38L9X
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 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 marshals who was standing on the court became “aggressive” and threatened to call the police if she did not leave the stands
JUST IN: Rusedski lifts lid on private chat with Nadal’s coach in CincinnatiOther spectators at the court came to the fan’s defence and cited free speech but Lola opted to leave the stands, walking freely around the grounds with a friend who is Ukrainian. No more than half an hour later, she was then approached by the tournament’s head of security over the size of her flag, which was above the regulated measurements.
Lola was eventually escorted to her car by the security guard and made to leave the flag in her car before re-entering the grounds.
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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.
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