Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova is being slammed on Instagram for posing with a US flag

Tennis ace Maria Sharapova was Russia’s flag bearer at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Getty Images
  • Tennis ace Maria Sharapova has been attacked on social media after posing with a US flag.
  • The 30-year-old posted a photo of herself standing with her mother in front of a an artwork of the flag at an art exhibition.
  • Instagram followers criticised Sharapova of “not having the guts to pose with a Russian flag.”

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has suffered a social media backlash after posing with a US flag.

The five-time tennis major champion posed for a photograph at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, arm-in-arm with her mother and standing in front of an artwork of the Star-Spangled Banner.

After posting the image, Sharapova was subjected to vitriolic abuse as followers accused her, mostly in Russian, of not having the courage to “pose with a Russian flag” and of “only showing patriotism” when it suited her.

One user commented in English: “It’s pathetic that you’re cheering for ‘American’ tennis champion who acts under the Russian flag and clothes, listens to the Russian anthem and denies the US passport.”

Here’s the photograph:

The 30-year-old has been a US resident since 1994, but competes for Russia, even representing the country at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

She was Russia’s official flag bearer at the opening ceremony and went on to win a silver medal in the women’s singles event.

This is hardly the first time Sharapova has come under fire in recent years.

In 2016, the tennis star was banned from competing for two years after testing positive for meldonium, a banned substance. However, her sentence was reduced on appeal and she returned to the WTA Tour in 2017.

Most recently, Sharapova played at the Indian Wells Open in California but was knocked out of the opening round by Naomi Osaka on March 8.