When Anastasia Potapova and her partner Alexander Shevchenko tied the knot in December 2023, they were a young Russian tennis couple. Now, the 22-year-old WTA player is married to a Kazakhstani, as her husband has changed citizenship.
Born in Russia, in a port city of Rostov-on-Don, Shevchenko had been playing for Russia since he turned pro in 2018. The 23-year-old, currently ranked No.48 on the ATP Tour, has decided to switch his citizenship, amid the increasing difficulties that Russian athletes face due to the political situation.
Shevchenko announced the news in an Instagram story, saying:
Hi everyone, just want to let everyone know that from next week on I will represent Kazakhstan on the court. I’m very proud about it and can’t wait to step on the court, trying to make memorable moments for myself and the country.
Shevchenko is the latest addition to a growing roster of Russian tennis players choosing to represent Kazakhstan, a nation fervently investing in establishing itself as a prominent force in the global sports arena. Notably, Elena Rybakina, originally from Moscow, clinched the 2022 Wimbledon title under the Kazakhstani flag. Before her, Yulia Putintseva and Alexander Bublik transitioned their citizenship from Russia to Kazakhstan, driven by the pursuit of enhanced financial support from the national tennis federation.
Note that there were also tennis players who played for Kazakhstan for some time and then returned to their original citizenship. Sofia-born Sesil Karatantscheva, for instance, adopted Kazakh citizenship in early 2009 but later reverted to representing Bulgaria in 2014. Similarly, retired Russian player Ksenia Pervak, after representing Kazakhstan from 2011 to 2013, made the decision to switched back to the flag of Russia.