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20 May, 2022 19:55

WTA joins men’s tour in penalizing Wimbledon after Russian ban

The women's tennis tour has followed its male counterpart the ATP in announcing the step
WTA joins men’s tour in penalizing Wimbledon after Russian ban

Women's tennis tour the WTA has followed the ATP in stripping Wimbledon of its ranking points after the ban placed on Russian and Belarusian athletes this summer. 

WTA chief Steve Simon released a statement on Friday announcing the measure, and though he reiterated that the body condemns the Russian military operation in Ukraine which is the All England Lawn Tennis Club's (AELTC) motivation for the ban, he said the suspension of players goes against its principles.

"Nearly 50 years ago, the WTA was founded on the fundamental principle that all players have an equal opportunity to compete based on merit and without discrimination," Simon said. 

"The WTA believes that individual athletes participating in an individual sport should not be penalized or prevented from competing solely because of their nationalities or the decisions made by the governments of their countries," he added, saying that the recent decisions made by the AELTC and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to ban athletes in upcoming UK grass-court events violates "that fundamental principle, which is clearly embodied in the WTA rules, the Grand Slam rules and the agreement the WTA has with the Grand Slams."

"As a result of the AELTC’s position that it will not honor its obligation to use the WTA Rankings for entry into Wimbledon and proceed with a partial field not based on merit, the WTA has made the difficult decision to not award WTA ranking points for this year’s Wimbledon Championships," Simon confirmed.

"In addition, each of the WTA-sanctioned events (Nottingham, Birmingham, and Eastbourne) will be penalized and their WTA tournament sanctions will be placed on probation. Since alternative and comparable playing and ranking point opportunities exist in the same weeks as those events for the affected players, WTA ranking points will remain in place for those events."

Simon insisted that the stance the WTA is taking is about "protecting the equal opportunities that WTA players should have to compete as individuals."

"If we do not take this stance, then we abandon our fundamental principle and allow the WTA to become an example to support discrimination based on nationality at other events and in other regions around the world," Simon stressed, vowing that the WTA "will continue to apply its rules to reject such discrimination."

Simon concluded that he remains "hopeful and willing to reassess the issuance of points should we find a solution that has consensus from all parties and allows our players the opportunity to compete in a unified environment."

Like the ATP's, the WTA announcement comes on the eve of the French Open, where Russian players will be allowed to compete, with Wimbledon set to kick off on June 27.