Russian number one ‘agrees’ with ban on teams from homeland
Russian women's tennis number one Daria Kasatkina has stated that she agrees with sporting sanctions placed on Russia to some extent, and would consider changing citizenship if it meant being able to continue her career.
Russian athletes and are teams currently banned from numerous sports after federations followed a recommendation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to hand down the punishment as a response to the military conflict in Ukraine.
Talking to the YouTube channel 'Caution: Sobchak', Kasatkina, who recently crashed out of the US Open in the first round, stated that she "absolutely" agrees with a ban on teams and "probably all the structures that are supported by state funding."
"I do not quite agree with a ban on individuals like us – I speak, for example, for myself, [fellow tennis players] Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov, Nastya Pavlyuchenkova. Specifically, with us, I don’t think it’s right," Kasatkina stressed.
Russian and Belarusian tennis players are currently cleared to compete on the ATP and WTA tours as neutrals, although they are banned from team events and were barred from the Grand Slam at Wimbledon in June and July.
Kasatkina, 25, said she could understand the All England Lawn Tennis Club's (AELTC) decision to ban Russians and Belarusians but didn't necessarily agree.
"Because – if you take each case individually – I don’t think that we fall under it. With national teams, of course, it’s different, here I agree," said Kasatkina, who recently made headlines for coming out as gay.
To the same channel, Kasatkina expressed a worry that she will "no longer be able to compete under the Russian flag" because the powers that be will simply "not return it to us."
"It's sad," Kasatkina lamented. "Sad because my own country took away from me the dream that moved me when I was very young. I did nothing to have this dream taken away from me.
"For example, Roland-Garros [in France] is the only Grand Slam tournament where, when you win, you get up and stand with the cup, then they raise the flag of your country and play the anthem. This is the only tournament in tennis, except for the Olympics, where there is such a tradition," she pointed out.
"I remember when I was a little girl and it was my dream to stand with the Roland-Garros trophy and watch the flag of my country go up.
"In my opinion, as I went to school, I studied the anthem of the Russian Federation, which I will never be able to sing. That's why I can't call myself a non-patriot, because I love my country, I learned the national anthem of my country.
"My main goal when I was little was to stand with the cup, watch the flag of my country go up and sing the national anthem. This dream was taken from me. I will never be able to do it again," Kasatkina added.
Kasatkina also said that she would be ready to change her citizenship if necessary to continue with her sporting career.
"At the moment I am a citizen of Russia. And no matter what, I'm proud to be Russian and that is how it will be. If my career depends on it, then the choice is obvious. I want to keep playing tennis. For me, this is priority number one. And I play for myself," Kasatkina stressed.
"Before, I could easily get the citizenship of another country as a top athlete," Kastkina pointed out.
"Now the situation is unstable, no one wants to add fuel to the fire."
As to which country she would like citizenship from, Kastkina specified Switzerland as a country which "looks very stable."