A woman with a Ukrainian flag around her shoulders was kicked out of a match between two Russian players during a qualifying round for the Cincinnati Masters. Anna Kalinskaya registered a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Anastasia Potapova but the controversy started when one of the players complained about a woman in the crowd who had a flag and a Ukrainian floral crown. She was then asked to leave the venue.
The woman, as per tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg, was a local resident named Lola and was silently watching the match before the incident happened. The umpire Morgane Lara confronted Lola and said it was “not nice” to sit with the flag. Lola replied it is “not nice to invade a country”. Rothenberg then tweeted how the security marshal “then became aggressive with Lola, telling her that she had to leave the court or he would call the police”.
He added: “Other spectators nearby at Court 8 quickly came to Lola’s defence, saying she wasn’t doing anything wrong or saying anything disruptive. She was just sitting there with her flag. They mentioned free speech, ‘land of the free’, etc, but the marshal was unmoved.”
Lola then reportedly left on her own and was approached by the tournament’s head of security who explained to her that the flag was too big. A tournament spokesman reacting to this incident said, “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.”