October 6, 2022

Woman with Ukrainian flag kicked out of tennis match between Russian players

The Western & Southern Open tournament logo is displayed on Tuesday near Cincinnati. (Aaron Doster/AP)

It’s a racket.

A woman draped in the Ukrainian flag was removed from a Cincinnati tennis match between two Russian players earlier this week.

The fan, who gave her name only as Lola, told local news that she was simply attending the match while wearing the flag when the chair umpire got down and spoke to her.

“‘You’re not being nice. You need to put the flag away,’” she quoted the umpire as saying in an interview with local CBS affiliate WKRC.

“The message I got was that it (was) agitating 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 won’t leave.’”

Though she felt the request was outrageous, Lola didn’t want to cause a scene and walked away, according to Racquet magazine.

“It’s not nice to invade a country,” she noted.

The qualifying match on Sunday between Anastasia Potapova and Anna Kalinskaya continued without another incident. Kalinskaya won 7-5, 6-1.

Tournament organizers at the Western & Southern Open said Lola was kicked out because her flag was too big. Veteran tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg said that was an absurd excuse.

“Anyone who has been to #CincyTennis will know that there have been similarly sized flags happily waved and displayed around the stadia here for years, most often U.S. and Serbian flags,” he tweeted. “This is not a policy that has ever been enforced with any regularity.”

The WTA has not publicly commented on the incident.