Frances Tiafoe posed in a photo with Alexander Ovechkin, a pro-Putin hockey player and captain of the Washington Capitals in the NHL.
World No. 16 has made several public appearances since concluding his 2023 season at the Paris Masters, where he suffered a painful first-round defeat against Aleksander Bublik (6-3, 6-4). The American tennis player was recently spotted at an NBA game between the Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans. This time, he visited the Washington Capitals, a hockey team in his hometown.
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The 2022 US Open semifinalist interacted with several players from the Capitals, participating in activities both on the ice, playing hockey, and trying his hand at tennis. After the encounter, Frances Tiafoe exchanged gifts with Alexander Ovechkin, the team's captain. 'Big-Foe' presented a signed tennis racket, and in return, Ovechkin gave him a signed hockey stick and jersey.
Both athletes posed together in a photo that generated criticism for Tiafoe due to Ovechkin's political affiliation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he had previously supported in the 2018 presidential campaign.
“Tennis star Francis Tiafoe met with Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin who started a movement called PutinTeam in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The champion of three ATP tournaments presented the Russian hockey player with a racket.”
Fans reacted on social media to the image, especially as it became known that Ovechkin has a close relationship with Putin and reportedly even has the president's phone number. Here are some of the fan reactions on X (former Twitter)
"I had a lot of respect for you on and off the court. Not anymore," the fan commented.
“What a shame! He took a picture with a hockey player and you made all this up... Your account should be banned”