"Might not be the last Russian player to change nationality" – Curiosity grips tennis world as Varvara Gracheva applies for French citizenship
The tennis fraternity is buzzing in reaction to the news about rising Russian tennis player Varvara Gracheva’s new citizenship application.
Gracheva, who was born in Moscow, has been training at the Elite Tennis Center in Cannes, France since 2016. On Monday, March 27, it was reported that the Russian player had finalized her application for French naturalization amidst the on-going Russia-Ukraine war.
The news has caught the eye of the tennis world, with many claiming that other players might follow suit.
Journalist Simon Cambers wondered if more Russian tennis players would change their nationality in the coming months.
“Guessing she might not be the last Russian player to change nationality in the coming months,” Cambers remarked.
Ben Rothenberg expressed a similar view, noting that the possibility of a change in citizenship has previously been discussed among players.
“A much-discussed possibility for Russian players, but will this become a trend?” he said.
Journalist James Gray chimed in with a similar opinion.
“Interesting to see how many others do something similar, in light of everything,” he said.
A few fans also gave their opinion on the matter:
Russians and Belarusians, including top athletes such as Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Aryna Sabalenka, Victoria Azarenka, Daria Kasatkina, Karen Khachanov and Veronika Kudermetova, have faced harsh consequences due to their countries’ part in the on-going war. The players, who are currently competing under a neutral flag on tour, were excluded from the 2022 Wimbledon Championships altogether.
Last year, Rublev also expressed his willingness to change citizenship in light of the Wimbledon ban.
"Speaking of Wimbledon, I probably should have changed my citizenship to get there. That would have been acceptable to them. If we'd get completely banned from all tournaments and I wanted to keep my career going, it could have been one of the ways," Rublev said.
However, changing citizenship isn’t as straight-forward for established players as it is for budding athletes. The International Tennis Federation has rules in place that disallow players who have previously competed in the Davis Cup or the Billie Jean King Cup from representing another country.
Things are looking up for Russian tennis player Varvara Gracheva as she applies for French citizenship
Varvara Gracheva has put up some strong displays in recent tournaments. The 22-year-old, who has seven ITF titles to her name, commenced her March campaign with a maiden WTA final at the ATX Open. She defeated top seed Magda Linette and former US Open champion Sloane Stephens along the way.
At the WTA 1000 Indian Wells Open, Gracheva survived the qualifiers and defeated World No. 8 Daria Kasatkina enroute to the final 16, before bowing out against eventual champion Elena Rybakina.
At the on-going Miami Open, the young athlete is hoping to better her Indian Wells run. She is once again through to the final 16, having upset World No. 5 Ons Jabeur in the process.
Gracheva is now set for a meeting against two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova for a spot in the quarterfinals.