Veronika Kudermetova at centre of outfit storm amid spicy scenes at Madrid Open

The Russian player has raised eyebrows with a controversial detail in her outfit.

Veronika Kudermetova, pictured here alongside Daria Kasatkina and Lesia Tsurenko at the Madrid Open.
Veronika Kudermetova (R) continued to wear a sanctioned sponsor, while Daria Kasatkina and Lesia Tsurenko didn't shake hands at the Madrid Open. Image: Getty

Veronika Kudermetova has sparked controversy at the Madrid Open after continuing to wear an outfit featuring the logo of a sponsor who has been sanctioned for supplying tyres to the Russian army. The Russian player advanced to the third round of the WTA 1000 event after beating compatriot Anastasia Potapova 7-6 (3) 5-7 6-3.

However a detail in Kudermetova's outfit raised eyebrows on social media, with many noticing that she's still wearing the logo of sponsor Tatneft. Kudermetova's sponsor is Russia’s fifth-biggest oil and gas company - and was recently sanctioned by the European Union for supplying the Russian army with tyres.

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As British journalist James Gray pointed out, there are no rules preventing Kudermetova from continuing to wear the sponsor's logo on the WTA tour. But if the Russian player intends to compete at Wimbledon in July, she will have to sign a neutrality declaration and won't be able to display the sponsorship.

Veronika Kudermetova, pictured here in action at the Madrid Open.
Veronika Kudermetova in action at the Madrid Open. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarusian players from competing at the grass-court grand slam in 2022, however they backflipped on their decision for this year's tournament. Russian and Belarusian players must sign a declaration stating they do not support the war in Ukraine if they wish to play in 2023.

"Veronika Kudermetova, at present, cannot be penalised because she is not breaking any rules," Gray tweeted. "If the WTA or the tournaments want to do something about it, they will need to change their rules."

Potapova was recently reprimanded by the WTA tour after she wore the jersey of a Russian football team onto court for her warm-up at Indian Wells. "Regarding the Russian soccer team shirt, the WTA has formally warned the player that this was not acceptable nor an appropriate action," a statement from the WTA read. "We do not expect to see any reoccurrence of this in the future."

World No.1 Iga Swiatek also criticised Potapova for wearing the shirt at the time. A number of tennis fans and commentators are also of the opinion that Kudermetova's display of her sanctioned sponsor is also inappropriate.

No handshake between Lesia Tsurenko and Daria Kasatkina

The drama surrounding Kudermetova and her outfit came amid spicy scenes following Daria Kasatkina's win over Lesia Tsurenko. Ukrainian player Tsurenko refused to shake hands with her Russian opponent, with Kasatkina simply offering a small wave of her hand to acknowledge that she respected her stance.

“Well, the saddest part is the war still going on,” Kasatkina said after the match, saying she took no offence. “So, of course, players from Ukraine, they’ve got a lot of reasons to not shake our hands.

"I accept it and it is how it is. It’s a very sad situation and I understand. I was actually happy that she waved me back. I’m already happy with that.”

Ukrainian player Marta Kostyuk has been refusing to shake hands with Russian opponents for months, and did so against Potapova at the Miami Open. Kostyuk also made staggering claims that WTA officials had been ignoring requests from Ukrainian players about the tour's response to the war.

In February, Tsurenko said that players had asked for a meeting after she pulled out of Indian Wells ahead of her clash with Aryna Sabelenka of Belarus. In March, Kostyuk said the request had been ignored.

"Yes, we wanted to have the meeting with the board and we didn't get one. No reply, nothing, just silence," she told reporters.

Kostyuk was also unimpressed with the WTA's response to the furore surrounding Potapova's shirt. "There are a lot of things that I don't agree with that WTA is doing. This not going to change anything," she said.

"I'll just get more hate online. Whatever I say, I will get a lot of hate. I don't know. Warning, whatever. You give her a warning... You can suspend someone, I don't know. I can't comment on that really, it's just funny."

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