A Russian player was briefly removed from the Western and Southern Opens on Sunday after a Russian player complained to the referee during the game that the fan was sitting with a Ukrainian flag on his shoulder.
On Sunday in Cincinnati, two Russians, Anna Kalinskaya and Anastasia Potapova, had their first-set qualifying game when one of the players stopped to complain to referee Morgane Lane.
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According to Racket Magazine’s Ben Rosenberg, the issue has to do with the audience watching behind them. Fan Lola was apparently just sitting quietly watching the game, with the Ukrainian flag slung over his shoulder and wearing a Ukrainian wreath crown. Action “bad”.
Rosenberg’s Lola responded: “It’s not good to invade a country” – apparently referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has been going on for nearly six months now.
The situation escalated, and Laura left the game. Security officers later found her and said her flag was larger than the allowed 18×18 inches — a policy rarely enforced, if ever.
Lola then shrunk her flag down to size, but was escorted to the parking lot by security and told she had to leave it there.
When asked for comment, the tournament cited flag size rules. The WTA did not respond to Rosenberg.
Kalinskaya defeated Potapova 7-5, 6-1 in straight sets. It is unclear which player complained first and how the other responded.
Sunday’s events are among those linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in recent months. Wimbledon organisers banned players from Russia and Belarus from their matches earlier this year, but then the WTA and ATP responded with no points from the event. Russian players on both tours are allowed to play, but under a neutral flag.
The Western and Southern Opens will continue through August 21st.