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Featured Image Credit: Ben Rothenberg/Twitter.
A woman wearing a Ukrainian flag during a Cincinnati Masters qualifying match-up between two Russians was kicked out mid-match after complaints from a player.
The all-Russian affair between Anna Kalinskaya and Anastasia Potapova had to be stopped after one player took offence to a woman sitting in the crowd.
The fan-in-question was sitting courtside donning a traditional Ukrainian headdress and draped in the nation's flag.
Tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg reported on the incident involving the fan named Lola.
It's understood one of the players in action complained to WTA chair umpire Morgane Lara and the official then approached Lola telling her it was ‘not nice’ to be sitting with the flag.
Lola gave the most perfect response, saying it ‘was not nice to invade a country’.
After protesting her right to stay in the stands as she was not disrupting the play, a security guard rather aggressively approached Lola telling her she had to leave the court or police would get involved.
This spectator was named Lola.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 15, 2022
She lives near the #CincyTennis tournament in Mason, OH, and was sitting with a Ukrainian flag draped around her body. Lola also wore a vinok, which is a Ukrainian floral wreath crown.
Lola was not saying anything, watching the match silently... pic.twitter.com/QREW5tSBRb
Reports say other spectators came to Lola’s defence protesting that she had not said or done anything wrong, citing free speech.
Lola, not wanting to cause any further disruption, left the court of her own volition, along with her Ukrainian friend.
However, one overzealous security guard seemed to want to cause more of a scene.
The Cincinnati Masters head of security found Lola and pulled out a document telling her that the flag was above regulation size and she would have to store it in her car if she was to return.
Of course, as Rothenberg notes, the initial confrontation was not sparked as an issue of the flag size but of the country, the flag was supporting.
Spectators noted that flags of the same size, ‘most often US and Serbian flags’ were seen throughout the tournament, so it was a rarely enforced rule.
A tournament spokesman told Reuters: “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.”
“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.”
Retired Ukrainian tennis star Alexandr Dolgopolov took exception to the incident, taking to Twitter to vent his frustrations.
He said: “Our country is drowning in blood and barbaric violence, no Russian will bully a silent supporter wearing a Ukraine flag! Have some respect.
“P.s- keep the flags in the policy requirement, so they have no ‘fairy tale’ reason to ask you to leave.”