The Rome Masters WTA trophy presentation descended into chaos early Sunday as disgruntled crowds jeered a tennis federation official and turned the ceremony into a total embarrassment.
Trophy holder Elena Rybakina, who claimed the win as Anhelina Kalinina had to retire trailing 6-4, 1-0 with a thigh injury, suffered her second official snub in less than a year.
Last summer, the quiet Kazakh won Wimbledon but was not awarded the 2,000 ranking points due to WTA sanctions on the All England Club for banning Russian and Belaus players.
She took quiet revenge by landing on fourth spot in the rankings from Monday in time for the weekend start of the French Open.
In Rome, which concluded after a rainy week of rescheduling and postponement, she also got short shrift as a cobbled-together trophy ceremony.
Expressive Romans were incensed by an 11 p.m. start for the women’s title match – due to rain delays earlier for the men – with officials saying there was no way the contest could have been shifted to Sunday afternoon before the men’s final between Daniil Medvedev and Holger Rune.
The presentation itself showed signs of no rehearsal, with both players completely lost as to what might come next.
Champion Rybakina was introduced first – a complete reversal of the usual protocol.
And when a federation vice-president stepped up to speak, all hell broke loose with boos echoing throughout the stadium.
They were also angry about newly inflated ticket prices which resulted in half-empty match venues at the Foro Italico during a week when rain cancellations were fast and frequent.
More of the same could be expected Sunday evening, when the men’s final is expected to wrap up.
Main photo:- Elena Rybakina with Rome Masters trophy after chaotic presentation – by WTATennis.com