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20 Jun, 2022 11:34

Russian-born star avoids Wimbledon ban after nationality switch

Doubles ace Natela Dzalamidze will be free to compete at the grass court Grand Slam
Russian-born star avoids Wimbledon ban after nationality switch

Doubles specialist Natela Dzalamidze will line up at Wimbledon later this month after it was revealed that the Russian-born star had switched her nationality to Georgian.

Dzalamidze is among the contenders for this year’s Grand Slam in London with the Georgian flag next to her name and current women’s doubles ranking of number 43 in the world.

The 29-year-old’s WTA profile has also been updated to reflect the nationality change.

Dzalamidze was still listed as a “neutral” when competing at the recent French Open because of the ban imposed on Russian national symbols for stars from the country when playing on the WTA and ATP tours.

But the nationality switch for Dzalamidze has occurred ahead of Wimbledon on June 27, where organizers have defied governing bodies in tennis to impose their own ban on Russian and Belarusian players because of the conflict in Ukraine.

It is unclear when Dzalamidze made her application for a change, although organizers the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) told Reuters that “player nationality, defined as the flag they play under at professional events, is an agreed process that is governed by the tours and the ITF [International Tennis Federation].”

Competing under the Russian flag, Dzalamidze captured two WTA Tour-level doubles titles and has career prize money of just over $370,000. 

She has yet to comment directly on her new Georgian status, but did share a photo of a report on her Instagram Stories, writing “all you need to know.”

Dzalamidze is set to appear at Wimbledon with Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia after usual women’s doubles partner Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia is among those barred from appearing at SW19.

Wimbledon’s Russian ban has triggered civil war in tennis, with both the WTA and ATP suggesting the move is discriminatory and stripping the tournament of its rankings points in response.

The likes of Serbian men’s great Novak Djokovic has been among those to condemn the decision, describing it as “crazy.”

Wimbledon officials have attempted to justify the ban by arguing it is a result of UK government guidance, and that allowing the likes of Russian men’s world number one Daniil Medvedev to appear at the tournament would supposedly “benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime.”