French Open official confirms terms for Russian entry
French Open officials have reiterated that they will not follow in Wimbledon’s footsteps with a ban Russian and Belarusian players, but said participants from the two countries must follow stringent rules regarding their nationality.
Wimbledon bosses have defied the likes of men’s tour the ATP and women’s equivalent the WTA by barring Russian and Belarusian stars from the grass court showpiece this summer because of the conflict in Ukraine.
That decision has led to condemnation from some quarters, with the likes of Belarusian women’s world number two Victoria Azarenka among the latest this week when she said the step “doesn’t make sense.”
Questions had been raised as to whether the stance by Wimbledon would prompt a rethink in policy at the year’s second Grand Slam, which gets underway on the hallowed clay courts of Roland-Garros on May 22.
But French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton has firmly told local media that will not be the case.
“The position has not changed. To date, we are in line with the declaration of 9 March 2022 by all the sports ministries of the European Union and other signatory countries, which aims to impose on Russian and Belarusian athletes a regime of strict neutrality,” Moretton said, according to L’Equipe.
“So no flag, no anthem. Full stop. We leave it at that. The position is that and we apply it.”
The French tennis chief refused to comment on the decision by his counterparts at the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), which will see a total absence of Russian and Belarusian players from all UK events this summer.
“We are not going to get into the judgment of the UK government. Everyone has their position. It’s happening above the little tennis tournament that we are,” said Moretton.
Wimbledon organizers have attempted to explain their decision by pointing to the UK government’s anti-Russian stance, while claiming that the appearance of players such as men’s world number two Daniil Medvedev would somehow hand the Russian leadership a PR coup.
The WTA and ATP – both of which have allowed Russians and Belarusians to continue on their tours under neutral status – have condemned Wimbledon and are said to be mulling retaliatory measures which may include the event being deprived of any ranking points.
Roland-Garros is set to run from May 22 to June 5. Wimbledon kicks off on June 27 and closes with the men’s final on July 10.