Tennis world erupts over fan's Ukrainian flag removal: 'Abhorrent'

A fan (pictured middle) wearing an Ukraine flag at the Cincinnati Masters and (pictured far right) the chair umpire speaking to the fan.
A fan wearing a Ukraine flag at the Cincinnati Masters was spoken to by the chair umpire and security eventually asked her to remove it. (Images: Ben Rothenberg/TrashTennis)

A spectator has been forced to remove her Ukrainian flag from the Cincinnati Masters grounds after watching a match between two Russian tennis players at the tournament.

Ukraine supporter Lola was watching the first round match between Anna Kalinskaya and Anastasia Potapova at the WTA 1000 event.

BRUTAL: Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic news rocks tennis world

CRAZY: Tennis fans left raging over Serena and Raducanu news

However, drama erupted when the chair umpire stopped the match and appeared to lean over the barrier to address Lola about the flag draped around her body.

Lola was also wearing a floral wreath known as a Vinok.

Spectators appeared to step in and defend Lola to claim she had watched the match in a respectful manner, according to tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg.

However, after a discussion, Lola was eventually told to leave the stands.

After leaving and walking the grounds, Rothenberg reported that a security guard approached Lola and her Ukrainian friend after 20 minutes.

She was then told her Ukrainian flag dimensions didn't meet the measurement requirements for use during the Cincinnati Masters.

Security eventually escorted Lola to the parking lot where she put her flag away in her car so she could return.

An official from the Cincinnati Masters told Reuters: “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.”

Tennis world erupts over Ukraine flag drama

The incident has caused outrage following Russia's invasion of Ukraine nearly six months ago.

While the rules state a flag has to fall between 18x18, many took to social media to claim the rule is rarely enforced.

Others claimed they had been inside the Cincinnati Masters with similar sized flags without issue.

The incident also highlights the difference in how tournaments are approaching the sensitive topic.

While the ATP and WTA are both allowing Russian players to compete, they must do so under a neutral flag.

The All England Club took the extraordinary decision to ban all Russian players from competing at Wimbledon.

While this divided the tennis world, the US Open has made the call to allow Russian players - such as men's World No.1 Daniil Medvedev - to compete at the year's final grand slam.

However, this incident in a major lead-up tournament will raise alarms on how the incident will be treated in the future.

with Reuters

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.