Medvedev makes first comments on Wimbledon ban
Tennis star Daniil Medvedev says the decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s tournament is “unfair” and creates an uncomfortable precedent for other sports.
The world number two will be among the biggest names affected by the ruling announced by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) that Russians and Belarusians would not be invited to this year’s Grand Slam because of the conflict in Ukraine.
Quoted by Tribune de Geneve as he prepares to make a comeback from a hernia operation, Medvedev gave a nuanced answer when questioned on the issue.
“On the one hand, I can understand it and, on the other, I find it unfair. This is a delicate situation because it sets a precedent and puts other sports competitions in an uncomfortable position,” said the 26-year-old, via translation.
“Having discussed this with the ATP, we tennis players are considered by law to be self-employed.
“Currently in the United Kingdom, Russian self-employed workers have the right to work. So if I have the opportunity to play Wimbledon, I’d be delighted. If not, I would accept it,” added Medvedev.
Attempting to justify the step, Wimbledon bosses cited UK government policy and claimed that allowing the likes of Medvedev to appear at the grass court showpiece would somehow be a victory for “the propaganda machine of the Russian regime.”
A number of high-profile stars including Serbian icon Novak Djokovic have criticized the decision, while the men’s ATP and women’s WTA tours have both suggested it is discriminatory.
Reports last week indicated that the ATP is poised to strip Wimbledon of its rankings points in retaliation for the ban – a step said to have been driven by strong sentiments on the ATP Player Council.
Medvedev, who has not played since undergoing surgery at the start of April, said he was not privy to those discussions.
“I was far from the circuit and I am not part of the Players Council. So I’m not too aware of it,” said Medvedev.
“I listen and I have the principle of respecting all opinions. You know, out of 100 people, there are 95 who see the yellow tennis ball and 5% green. We cannot all agree,” he added.
Medvedev is preparing to return at the Geneva Open this week as he aims to gain valuable playing time ahead of the French Open, which gets underway on May 22.
Unlike their Wimbledon counterparts, organizers of the Paris Grand Slam are allowing Russian and Belarusian players to compete this year as neutrals.
Red dirt is notoriously Medvedev’s least favored surface, although his ranking means he is set to be seeded second at Roland-Garros.
Medvedev had cut a despondent figure after losing to Rafael Nadal in a five-set epic in the Australian Open final back in January and admitted that the defeat had affected his moral at subsequent events in the US.
However, he signaled that he had now put the disappointment firmly behind him and that the “fire” was back.
“I’m motivated, I notice that I’m getting back into good habits, I train hard. And I hope to be able to play two or three matches here before switching to best-of-three sets at Roland-Garros,” said Medvedev.