The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing this year will have huge ramifications for men’s and women’s tennis.
Nine top 30 players across the men’s and women’s rankings will be barred from competing at Wimbledon.
The tournament has determined that no Russian or Belarusian players will be allowed to play. It’s understood the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club received pressure from the federal government.
It means world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, world No. 8 Andrey Rublev, world No. 26 Karen Khachanov and world No. 30 Aslan Karatsev will not compete for the men’s title. The women’s event is hit hard, too, with world No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka, world No. 15 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, world No. 18 Victoria Azarenka, world No. 26 Daria Kasatkina and world No. 29 Veronika Kudermetova all now unable to compete.
The decision by Wimbledon goes against what has been occurring on the ATP and WTA tours where the players have been competing without any reference to their nationality.
Russia and Belarus, though, have been banned from team events such as the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup.
The unprecedented action comes after growing pressure from British leaders.
“We need some potential assurance that they (the players) are not supporters of Putin and we are considering what requirements we may need to try to get some assurances along those lines,” sports minister Nigel Huddleston told a Parliament subcommittee in early March.
When asked by the media about Wimbledon at Indian Wells last month, world No. 2 Medvedev replied with: “I don’t have any response to Wimbledon.”
“Everybody knows what’s happening, so it’s basically of course impossible to ignore it (the invasion), but I always said everybody has different opinions on different things in the world.”
World No. 8 Rublev made international headlines when he wrote on a TV camera ‘no war please’ at the Dubai Tennis Championships in February.
Speaking at the Serbia Open, Rublev said he received a call from tournament organisers and was heavily critical of the response from the All England Club.
“The reasons they (Wimbledon) gave us had no sense, they were illogical,” said Rublev.
“What is happening now is complete discrimination against us.
“Banning Russian or Belarusian players … will not change anything.”
Rublev and other banned players offered to donate their prize money to the humanitarian effort in Ukraine, saying tournament officials should donate the entire prize fund for the tournament, which totalled $62 million last year.
World No. 1 and reigning Wimbledon men’s singles champion and six-time winner Novak Djokovic called the decision ‘crazy’.
“I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is crazy,” Djokovic told the media at the Serbia Open.
“When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good.”
Wimbledon runs from June 27 to July 10 this year.