Russian TV star axed for slamming ‘small and weak’ colleague over Daria Kasatkina video

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Russian No 1 Daria Kasatkina has responded after her PR and a top Russian sports presenter was suspended from her TV role for defending both the WTA star and ATP world No 8 Andrey Rublev for their comments on citizenship in a recent YouTube video. Kasatkina came out as gay in the vlog while both players spoke about the difficulty of making it in tennis as a Russian citizen.

Kasatkina made headlines for her bravery as she came out as gay, confirmed she had a girlfriend and spoke about the difficulties of being homosecual in Russia during a YouTube video alongside Russian blogger Vitya Kravchenko. ATP world No 8 Rublev also appeared in the video, with both tennis stars admitting that there may be more opportunities for players who changed citizenship away from Russia.

The 24-year-old admitted he would consider seeking a new citizenship if Russians were fully barred from competing, after the recent ban on Russian and Belarusian players at Wimbledon. And the WTA world No 12 admitted it may be a good path for kids trying to make it pro, saying: “I think lots of talented children would get new citizenship with some help from their parents. As for kids, if you have such privilege then go for it.” 

Both players have received backlash for their comments in the video, including on Russia’s sports channel Match TV. One of the long-time presenters for the TV channel – Sofya Tartakova – is also the agent for Kasatkina and Rublev, and lashed out at one of her colleagues for criticising the stars but found herself suspended from her presenting role indefinitely as punishment.

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“There is a theme,” she said of the show and of fellow presenter Anton Anisimov. “A freak show for tongue-tied deputies, pseudo-experts and people who are looking for five-minute fame. For a whole hour on the air of the channel where I have been working since the day of its foundation, they poured s*** on my players – Daria Kasatkina and Andrey Rublev.

“I am that ‘unnamed PR agent’, Anton. Nobody is afraid of you because you are small and weak. You have nothing to do with sports.” Tartakova also said the channel had lost its access to exclusives with the country’s top players and apologised to Kasatkina and Rublev, adding: “I love you so much. And I’m proud.

“You are the most kind, open and honest guys. Working with you is a real gift. I’m sorry I didn’t save it. I am very ashamed and hurt that you are offended. But I am always on your side.” And the presenter has now been axed from her role by the general producer of Match TV, who confirmed her suspension was indefinite.

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Alexander Taschin thanked Tartakova for her work on the channel but claimed she should have aired her grievances in private, adding: “In these circumstances, we consider it incorrect for Sofya to appear on the TV channel, so we give her time to think about her statements. Until that time, Sofya will not be on the air.” 

And Kasatkina herself has now come out to support her agent, slamming Match TV for their decision. “Sofya, you are the best, and we love you,” she wrote in an Instagram story. “The end, the train does not go any further.” Turning her attention to the Russian sporting channel, she swiped: “Match TV, I want to say a lot about you, but you yourself bury yourself perfectly.”

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