Serbian star Novak Djokovic describes it as “crazy”. The WTA, the ATP, and Martina Navratilova do not find the sanctions gallery. Going to Wimbledon alone with the blanket exclusion of Russian and Belarusian tennis professionals has sparked intense criticism and much discussion.
Title candidates such as US Open winner and world number four Daniil Medvedev, Aryna Sabalenka, will have to walk away from the world’s most popular tennis tournament this summer.
For the organizers, this is a necessary consequence of Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine. It is a decision to more comprehensively exclude players, which has not been present in tennis in recent decades, at least for political reasons.
“We don’t want to exclude them completely,” Ukraine’s top player Yelena Svitolina told the BBC. “If the players don’t speak out against the Russian government, expelling them is the right thing to do.” Like other Ukrainian players, the 27-year-old had previously called on the WTA and ATP to ask Russian and Belarusian players to position themselves clearly.
Serbian world number one Djokovic said that athletes in general had nothing to do with the war. “If politics interferes in sport, the result is not good,” said the six-times champion Wimbledon. In light of the wars in the Balkans, the 34-year-old mentioned that he himself was a war child. Djokovic emphasized that he was the first to denounce wars, also with a view to the suffering of the civilian population in wars.
Navratilova: Tennis is a “democratic sport”
Tennis icon Navratilova is also influenced by the Ukrainian population and athletes, but she believes that being excluded from the traditional Grand Slam tournament from June 27 to July 10 is wrong. “Tennis is a democratic sport. It’s hard when you see politics destroying it.” The war is horrific. However, exclusion goes beyond what is necessary.
Wimbledon is taking a step beyond other measures in tennis. The ITF has removed Russia and Belarus from the list of participants in the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. But Wimbledon is the first tournament to exclude singles and doubles players due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Russians and Belarusians continue to play on the ATP and WTA Tour – not just under their national flag. At the current indoor clay tournament in Stuttgart, for example, the lottery and game plan do not include the origin of the Belarusian Sabalenka who reached the Wimbledon semi-finals. The next Grand Slam tournament is the French Open in Paris, which begins at the end of May.
The WTA and the ATP are studying possible measures
Professional organizations WTA and ATP also responded to criticism Wednesday night after classic turf regulators officially confirmed previous media reports about the disqualification. The ATP said it was “unfair” to discriminate against players because of their nationality and that the decision could “set a harmful precedent”.
The WTA will study possible steps and measures against this decision, according to a statement from the women’s organization. “The WTA has repeatedly emphasized that individual athletes should not be penalized or banned from participating because of their origin or because of decisions made by their governments.”
Wimbledon organizers have admitted that it is difficult for those affected to suffer at the hands of the Russian leadership. It is the responsibility of the tournament to limit Russia’s global influence by any means possible, they justified their move. In light of the war, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to take advantage of the performances of tennis professionals at Wimbledon. (dpa)