The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has “formally warned” Russian tennis player Anastasia Potapova after she was seen wearing a Spartak Moscow soccer jersey ahead of her match against American Jessica Pegula at Indian Wells, a spokesperson told CNN Thursday.
World No.1 Iga Świątek was critical of the WTA for allowing Potapova to wear the shirt, saying on Tuesday that “more should be done to help Ukrainian players because everything we discuss in tennis is about Belarusian and Russian players.”
Potopova has been pictured wearing the shirt on several occasions, including in Dubai in a photo she posted to her own Instagram account.
When asked about the shirt after the match, Potapova said she had supported Spartak since she was 13 and saw no provocation in it, Reuters news agency reported.
In an email to CNN, WTA spokesperson Amy Binder said: “Regarding the Russian soccer team shirt, the WTA has formally warned the player that this was not acceptable nor an appropriate action.
“We do not expect to see any reoccurrence of this in the future.”
CNN has asked the WTA for further clarity on what the formal warning entailed and has also contacted Potapova’s agent for comment.
Ukrainian player Lesia Tsurenko had been due to play Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka at Indian Wells in California but did not end up taking to the court Monday, with Reuters news agency reporting that Tsurenko had withdrawn for personal reasons.
When asked about Tsurenko at her post-match press conference Tuesday, the 21-year-old Polish star Świątek said: “I totally understand why she withdrew, because honestly I respect the Ukrainian girls so much, because if like a bomb landed in my country or if my home was destroyed, I don’t know if I could handle that.”
On Wednesday, when asked about Świątek’s comments, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev said he felt sorry for Ukrainian players competing as war rages in their home country.
The 2021 US Open winner added: “For sure, the situation with Tsurenko, I don’t know in detail. It’s more for her and for maybe a little bit (for) Sabalenka to answer, because I actually didn’t know about this till the next day.
“Of course we have a responsibility (to talk about the issue) and it depends how every person, individual, will do with it.
“I’ve always said the same, I’m for peace all over the world and that’s all I can say.”
As of March 12, at least 8,231 civilians have been killed and 13,734 injured in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began February 24 last year, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The OHCHR said it believes the actual figures are “considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration.”
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