Presenter removed from air in row over Russian tennis stars
Russian presenter Sofya Tartakova has been taken off air on the Match TV channel in her homeland after a public outburst criticizing a show which discussed tennis duo Daria Kasatkina and Andrey Rublev.
Russian number one Kasatkina made headlines around the world this week for a YouTube interview she gave with blogger Vitya Kravchenko in Spain, in which the tennis star confirmed that she was in a relationship with a woman.
Kasatkina also became emotional while discussing the conflict in Ukraine, and both she and Rublev did not rule out changing their citizenship in future, should the sweeping bans on Russian athletes continue.
The pair featured as the topic of discussion on Match TV show ‘There is a Theme’, in which some members of the panel criticized the duo.
Tartakova, who is a long-time Match TV presenter but also represents the two players as their PR agent, issued a stinging response on social media, calling the program “a dirty and dried stain, which sooner or later will fall off by itself.”
“This is a freak show for tongue-tied deputies, pseudo-experts and people who are looking for five minutes of fame,” added the 33-year-old.
“For a whole hour on the air of the channel where I have been working since the day I was founded, they poured s**t on my players. I disdain to take part in this farce, so I did not come to the program.”
Tartakova was also critical of the show’s host, Anton Anisimov, calling him a “weak presenter.”
The public outburst did not go unanswered by the channel, whose general producer Aleksandr Taschin announced Tartakova would be removed from air to reflect on her comments.
“Public statements such as today’s are contrary to the concepts of corporate and journalistic ethics – my colleagues and I can say a lot to each other in person or in correspondence, have different opinions on a particular TV channel product, but it is not permissible to speak publicly in this vein,” read a statement from Taschin.
“In these circumstances, we consider Sofya's appearance on the air of the TV channel to be incorrect. We will give her time to think about her statements. Until that time, Sofya will not be on the air.”
Kasatkina, 25, shared her support for Tartakova on social media, writing: “Sofya, you are the best, and we love you.”
Kasatkina’s announcement regarding her sexual orientation made waves in the sporting world, although she had already mentioned in an intimate interview with Tartakova last year that she was open to having relationships with a woman.
The Tolyatti-born Kasatkina is currently ranked number 12 in the world but has a career-high rating of number 10.
She went on a career-best run to the semifinals of the French Open earlier this year, and boasts four WTA titles to her name – also racking up more than $8.5 million in prize money.
Kasatkina, Rublev and their compatriots are allowed to compete as neutrals on both the WTA and ATP tours, although Russia has been banned from team events.
Wimbledon also went against the grain by imposing its own ban on Russians and Belarusians – a move which has not been followed by the other Grand Slams.
Rublev said in the same interview with Kravchenko aired on Monday that he had offered numerous solutions to Wimbledon bosses – including playing doubles with a Ukrainian partners in a gesture of friendship – but all his ideas were rejected outright.