Russian tennis player Vera Zvonareva was denied entry to Poland on Friday, with ‘public safety’ cited as the reason for the decision. The 38-year-old wore a ‘no war’ visor hat at the Miami Open last year, but her stance did not affect the decision of the Polish authorities to deny her entry and deport her.
Zvonareva was expected to compete at the BNP Paribas Warsaw Open, which begins next week. However, her position in the competition has now been thrown into jeopardy and conversations are ongoing between the WTA and representatives of Poland about the issue.
The former US Open finalist is currently ranked as the world No 60 after she failed the qualify for Wimbledon, though the Russian player – once the world’s No 2 – now looks set to be forced to wait for a later competition to try and bounce back to form due to Polish policies.
Poland has been one of the most loyal allies of Ukraine since they were invaded by Russia in February 2022, and they have refused to soften their stance on a sporting front either. Earlier this week, their Minister of Sport, Kamil Bortniczuk, publicly announced that he would not attend any matches that featured players from Russia or Belarus.
The WTA have confirmed that Zvonareva has now safely left Poland in a succinct statement on the matter, which read: “The WTA is aware of the situation involving Vera Zvonareva in Warsaw. The safety and well-being of all players is a top priority of the WTA. Vera has departed Poland and we will be evaluating the issue further with the event.”
The Polish government also released a statement confirming their stance on the matter, saying: “Yesterday, July 21, the Border Guard prevented a Russian tennis player from entering Poland. Vera Zvonareva, using a visa issued by France, tried to get to our country on a flight from Belgrade to Warsaw. After arriving from Serbia, the tennis player stayed in the transit zone of Chopin Airport in Warsaw and today after 12.00pm flew to Podgorica.
“The Russian woman on the list of persons whose stay is undesirable in the territory of the Republic of Poland was not admitted by the Border Guard for reasons of state security and protection of public safety.
“Poland consistently opposes the regimes of (Vladimir) Putin and (Alexander) Lukashenko, refusing to allow people who support the actions of Russia and Belarus to enter our country.”
Last summer, Wimbledon and Lawn Tennis Association were penalised by the tours for banning Russian and Belarusian players from competing, prompting both parties to reverse their stance this year.