Varvara Gracheva is hoping to compete as French as she seeks citizenship ©Getty Images

Russian tennis player Varvara Gracheva is attempting to switch allegiances to France where she has lived and trained since 2016 after applying for citizenship.

The 22-year-old is said to have been trying to obtain citizenship of the country which is a possibility as she meets the criteria.

She is eligible as she has lived in France for at least five years and she passed the French language exam in November last year.

Her documents are now being considered by the French Interior Ministry.

Those helping Gracheva to obtain citizenship hope that she will be able to compete under the new flag at this year's French Open, scheduled to take place from May 28 to June 11, as well as for the national team in the Billie Jean King Cup.

Gracheva is currently ranked 54th in the world according to the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) and has earned $1.7 million (£1.3 million/€1.5 million) from a career singles record of 210 wins and 142 losses.

She lost in the final of the ATX Open, a WTA 250 event earlier this month, to Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk.

If successful, Varvara Gracheva would be one of four French women in the WTA's top 100 ©Getty Images
If successful, Varvara Gracheva would be one of four French women in the WTA's top 100 ©Getty Images

Kostyuk refused to shake hands with Gracheva after previously vowing never to do so when she came up against an opponent from Russia or Belarus.

Gracheva is based in Cannes and on April 3 she is set to enter the top 50 for the first time in her career.

She would be a good addition to the French squad which only has Caroline Garcia in the top 60 on the women's circuit and three players in the top 100.

Garcia is joined by 66th-ranked Alize Cornet and Oceane Dodin in 93rd.

Gracheva would not be the first to seek a switch away from Russia, as the country's athletes are considered neutrals by the sport's governing bodies.

Wimbledon enforced an outright ban on Russian and Belarusians in last year's Championships.

Women's singles winner Elena Rybakina, a native of Moscow, played under the Kazakhstan flag after becoming a naturalised citizen in 2018.