Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu of Romania defeated Dayana and Ivanna Yastremska 6-1 6-1 in the first round of doubles at Indian Wells. The sisters, twenty-one and fifteen years old, received a wildcard into the doubles draw after fleeing their home in Odessa, Ukraine following the Russian invasion.
Flags from both teams’ home countries were visible in the stands, but the Ukrainian flag also appeared as a ribbon some fans wore and as the background of a “I Stand With Ukraine” poster the sisters later autographed. One woman in the audience had draped herself in a Ukrainian flag and held up white cardboard sign on which she wrote “We Love” next to a drawing of a heart and the flag.
Throughout the match, the sisters were relaxed and smiling as they enjoyed being able to play tennis in front of the welcoming crowd that cheered loudly for every point.
Despite not walking away with the win, the sisters stayed after the match in a small outside stadium. They took selfies with fans and chatted in Ukrainian with some people who came to cheer them on. (photos: Jimmie48)