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Wimbledon bans players from Russia and Belarus

Wimbledon barred Russian and Belarus tennis players from this summer’s tournament due to the war in Ukraine.

The All England Club said in a statement Wednesday, “In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russia or Belarusian players with The Championships. It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022” (NBC Sports).

While Russia and Belarus were already banned from international team tennis competitions which included Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup. This ban would affect players such as Daniil Medvedev, a U.S. Open Champion who recently reached No.1 in the ATP rankings and who currently ranks No.2 in Men.

Other well-known names include Men’s No. 8 Andrey Rublev, Aryna Sabalenka, Victoria Azarenka, a former women’s No.1 who won the Australian Open twice; and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. 

All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt also said in another statement, “We recognize that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime.”

He continued, “We have very carefully considered the alternative measures that might be taken within the UK Government guidance but, given the high profile environment of The Championships, the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at The Championships” (ABC News).

The British government had previously hinted that Russian and Belarusian players might struggle to enter the U.K. even if they were allowed to compete. British Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston told a Parliament committee in March that he would not be comfortable with any athlete flying the Russian flag at Wimbledon.

The last time Wimbledon explicitly banned players for their nationality came in the wake of World War II when the club blocked competitors from Germany, Japan, Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Romania for several seasons. 

Wednesday’s move signals the first time a tennis tournament has told players from Russia and Belarus they are not welcome – and the ATP was quick to criticize the All-England Club for what the men’s tennis tour called a “unilateral decision” and “unfair.”

The seven groups that run the sport around the world decided March 1 that players from those countries would be allowed to compete in WTA, ATP and Grand Slam tournaments but not under the name or flag of Russia or Belarus. Those two nations also were kicked out of the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup team competitions; Russia had been the reigning champion in both.

ARTICLE: LEO SALGADO

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: MLIVE.COM

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