The size of the Ukrainian flag draped around her by a fan during a game at Monday’s Cincinnati Open 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 filed a complaint with WTA chair umpire Morgane Lara about the fan.
The fan was later interviewed by the local TV station WKRC. She called her name Lola and said she was an American who was originally from Uzbekistan.
“We had our Ukrainian flag, didn’t do anything crazy, distracted the players, but wrapped ourselves around it and sat there peacefully and quietly,” she said.
Lola said the umpire came to talk to her then. “The message I got was that it’s stirring up Russian players. I said, ‘I’m not putting it down.’ They kept playing for a minute or two. Then they stopped the game again and then the guard came up to me and said, ‘Ma’am, I’m going to call the police if you don’t leave.’
The tournament said the flag’s size, rather than its origin, was the problem.
“Under the Western & Southern Open bag policy, as stated on the tournament’s 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 grounds and allowed him to remain at the tournament after that. All questions regarding the chair umpire should be directed to the WTA Tour.
The WTA Tour did not respond to a request for comment. Ben Rothenberg, a senior editor at Racquet Magazine and a veteran reporter on the tennis circuit, said similar-sized flags were regularly displayed throughout the tournament with no repercussions.
“Everyone who’s been” #CincyTennis will know that for years there has been merry waving and similarly sized flags in the stadiums, mostly 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 aid, it said. the United States Tennis Association. last week.