Spectator with "oversized" Ukraine flag thrown out of Cincinnati Open qualifier

Lola (R) is the spectator with the Ukraine flag who was ousted from the venue
Lola (R) is the spectator with the Ukraine flag who was ousted from the venue
Parag Jain

Covered in a Ukraine flag, Lola, a spectator who attended a qualifying match at the Cincinnati Masters on Sunday, was shown the door by the tournament organizers. The explanation she was given for her removal was that her flag was above the regulation size of 18 x 18 inches in the tournament's rule book.

In a qualifying match where two Russians โ€” Anna Kalinskaya and Anastasia Potapova โ€” were competing against each other on Court 8, Lola took a seat behind the chair umpire. The girl was draped in a Ukrainian flag and a Ukrainian floral wreath crown, called vinok. She was a silent spectator and there were no signs that she would disrupt the match.

Video of some of this incident surfaced hours later on social media, via @trashytennis

However, one of the players complained to WTA chair umpire Morgane Lara, who then confronted the young visitor. When Lara told her that it was "not nice" to sit with the flag, Lola hit right back, saying, "It's not nice to invade a country." The on-court security marshal threatened to call the police if the girl didn't leave.

Fellow spectators cited "free speech" and defended Lola, telling the marshal that she was just sitting there with her flag and not saying anything to anyone. At this point, she willingly left the court with her Ukrainian friend. As they walked around the stadium, the tournament's head of security reached out to them with a rule book and said that their flag was above the permitted size.

This spectator was named Lola. 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...

Lola was allowed back into the stands after being asked to put the flag in her car. A spokesperson for the tournament later reiterated that the reason to evict her was the size of the flag.

"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," the spokesperson said.

Also Checkout: Cincinnati Open 2022 Schedule

In light of Ukraine's invasion, Wimbledon banned Russian players from this year's event

Daniil Medvedev was among the players who missed Wimbledon due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine
Daniil Medvedev was among the players who missed Wimbledon due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Russia invaded Ukraine in February this year and the issue has still not been resolved. As a result, the British government directed the All England Lawn Tennis Club to ban Russian and Belarusian players from participating in the 2022 Wimbledon Championships.

This meant that players like World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov, and Aryna Sabalenka had to sit out the grass-court Major. In response to this, the ATP and WTA decided to cancel the ranking points associated with Wimbledon.

Edited by Nihal Taraporvala


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