A woman was kicked out of a match at the Cincinnati Masters after one of the players complained that she was holding a Ukrainian flag.
The incident occurred during the first set of the women’s qualifying match between Anna Kalinskaya and Anastasia Potapova.
A member of the crowd, who had the flag draped around her shoulders as well as a Ukrainian wreath crown known as a vinok on her head, was reported to the umpire and asked to leave the venue.
Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg revealed that the woman was a local resident named Lola and that she had been watching the match in the stands quietly before she was suddenly reprimanded.
Umpire Morgane Lara confronted the fan and told her it was “not nice” to be sat with the flag.
In response, Lola said: “It’s not nice to invade a country.”
On an unfortunate incident at #CincyTennis yesterday:— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 15, 2022
During the first set of the women's qualifying match between Anna Kalinskaya and Anastasia Potapova, one of the players complained to the WTA chair umpire, Morgane Lara, about a woman sitting in the stands…
Why was the fan kicked out?
According to Rothenberg, other spectators jumped to the defence of the woman and brought up her right to ‘free speech’. However, a security marshal refused to back down and forced Lola to leave the court.
The tournament’s head of security said the reason for her exit was because her flag was too big.
“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,” a spokesperson told Reuters.
“Therefore, the patron was asked to remove the flag from the grounds and after doing so was allowed to remain at the tournament.
“Any inquiries about the chair umpire should be directed to the WTA Tour.”
While Lola allegedly considered cutting her flag to comply with the regulations, she eventually stored the flag in her car.
Tennis star jumps to fan’s defence
Rothenberg stressed that the flag policy was something that had never been enforced properly in the past, while a photo on the Western & Southern Open’s official Instagram account shows a woman holding up a huge Spain flag.
After the incident came to light, retired Ukrainian star Alexandr Dolgopolov shared his views on social media.
To all the people who admired my tennis and planning to visit the US tournaments, I ask to bring a Ukraine flag to all russian or bellorusian matches they watch. And I dare the @atptour @WTA to try this step again.— Alex Dolgopolov (@TheDolgo) August 16, 2022
Taking to Twitter, the former Australian Open quarter-finalist wrote: “To all the people who admired my tennis and [are] planning to visit the US tournaments, I ask [you] to bring a Ukraine flag to all Russian or Belarusian matches [you] watch. And I dare the @atptour [and] @WTA to try this step again. Repost [this] please.
“Our country is drowning in blood and barbaric violence, no Russian will bully a silent supporter wearing a Ukraine flag! Have some respect.”
He then added: “P.s- keep the flags in the policy requirement, so they have no ‘fairy tale’ reason to ask you to leave.”