Iga Swiatek rips Anastasia Potapova as storm erupts over Indian Wells outfit

The World No.1 tennis player has taken exception to the actions of her Russian rival.

Iga Swiatek, pictured here calling out Anastasia Potapova for wearing the Spartak Moscow jersey at Indian Wells.
Iga Swiatek has called out Anastasia Potapova for wearing the Spartak Moscow jersey at Indian Wells. Image: Getty/WTA

World No.1 tennis player Iga Swiatek has called out Russian player Anastasia Potapova after she wore a Russian football jersey onto court at Indian Wells. Potapova was seen wearing a Spartak Moscow shirt before her clash with Jessica Pegula on Monday, which she lost 6-3 4-6 5-7.

The moment seemed innocuous enough, however a number of tennis fans and commentators took exception to Potapova's actions due to the message it seemingly sends about her home nation. Russian and Belarusian players are currently barred from competing under their national flags due to the invasion of Ukraine, however they are allowed to play as neutral athletes.

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At such a tumultuous time, many believed Potapova was wrong to show her support for Russia - albeit through her favourite football team. Ahead of her blockbuster clash with Emma Raducanu on Tuesday, Swiatek was among those to hit out over Potapova's actions.

Anastasia Potapova, pictured here in action against Bianca Andreescu at Indian Wells.
Anastasia Potapova in action against Bianca Andreescu at Indian Wells. (Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

"To be honest, I was surprised," Swiatek said in her post-match press conference after beating Bianca Andreescu on Monday. "I thought the player realised that she should not, even if she is a fan of the team, show her views in this way at such times."

The Polish star revealed she had discussed the incident with the WTA, and criticised the governing body for a lack of clarity around the situation. "I've talked to the WTA and in a way I found out that there should be less such situations because they will explain to other players that you can't promote any Russian teams these days, which reassured me a bit," the 21-year-old said.

"On the other hand, I think these situations unfortunately happen because this announcement should have taken place much earlier. There was a lot of chaos in the locker room at the beginning of the war.

"It was not clear how to approach everything, which causes such unpleasant situations. I think if there had been better leadership from the beginning, maybe we would have avoided such situations."

Lesia Tsurenko had 'panic attack' before Indian Wells exit

The fresh furore comes after Ukrainian player Lesia Tsurenko withdrew from Indian Wells earlier this week ahead of her match against Belarusian star and Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka. Tsurenko later revealed she had a panic attack following a discussion with WTA chief executive Steve Simon.

Tsurenko said she was "absolutely shocked" by Simon's responses in a discussion they had about tennis' response to the invasion of Ukraine. She said she and fellow Ukrainian players are now questioning the position of Simon, who also said Russians and Belarusians would be allowed to play at the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Speaking to the Big Tennis Ukraine website, the 33-year-old said: "A few days ago, I had a conversation with our WTA CEO Steve Simon, and I was absolutely shocked by what I heard. He told me that he himself does not support the war, but if the players from Russia and Belarus support it, then this is only their own opinion, and the opinion of other people should not upset me. At the same time, he noted that if this had happened to him and he had been in my place, he would have felt terrible.

"He expressed confidence that the Russians and Belarusians will return to the Olympics and said that it will happen exactly as it is happening now in tennis. He also said that fair play and Olympic principles were not violated, but on the contrary. When asked if he understood what he was saying to me during the active phase of Russia's military aggression in my country he said yes, and this was his opinion.

"I was completely shocked by this conversation, and already in the last match (against Donna Vekic) it was incredibly difficult to play. When it was time to go to the court, I had a panic attack and I simply could not go out there. I just broke down mentally, to be honest."

with agencies

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