Tennis fan’s Ukrainian flag causes issue, tournament says item was too big

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A large Ukrainian flag draped around a fan during the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Sunday caused a complaint, and the woman was asked to remove it from the event, officials said.

The issue began during a qualifying match between Russian players Anna Kalinskaya and Anastasia Potapova, which led to one of the players complaining to WTA chair umpire Morgane Lara about the fan in the stands, according to multiple reports.

The fan was told by Lara she was “not being nice” and needed to put the flag away, WKRC-TV reported.

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A view of the Western and Southern Open logo on a tennis ball in Mason, Ohio August 14, 2019.

A view of the Western and Southern Open logo on a tennis ball in Mason, Ohio August 14, 2019. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

The woman, who identified herself only as Lola, is an American originally from Uzbekistan and said she and the people she was with were “sitting there peacefully and quiet” before getting asked to remove the flag.

“This is not Russia. This is United States of America,” she told the station.

Video posted on Twitter showed Lara confronting the fan. Lola told WKRC-TV that the tennis players began playing again for a few minutes before a security guard came up to her.

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Western & Southern Open officials said in a statement to Reuters the flag was too large.

“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,” a spokesperson for the event said. “Any inquiries about the chair umpire should be directed to the WTA Tour.”

A view of the tournament logo on the court barrier during the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio August 16, 2021.

A view of the tournament logo on the court barrier during the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio August 16, 2021. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

Russian and Belarusian players have taken heat in various sporting events around the world over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine back in February.

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Players from those countries were banned from Wimbledon earlier in the summer. The U.S. Open will allow Russian and Belarusian players compete in the tournament only under a neutral flag.

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