Wimbledon ready to ban Russians again – media
Wimbledon will repeat its ban on Russian and Belarusian stars next year if the situation with Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine hasn’t changed, according to The Daily Mail.
The All England Club refused to invite the likes of men’s world number one Daniil Medvedev to this year’s tournament despite the men’s ATP and women’s WTA tours allowing Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutrals.
Wimbledon organizers defended their ban by claiming it was aligned with UK government policy, also suggesting that allowing the likes of Medvedev or Belarusian women’s star Aryna Sabalenka to compete would hand a propaganda coup to the leadership of their countries.
Despite a backlash from big-name stars such as Novak Djokovic as well as the WTA and ATP stripping Wimbledon of rankings points as a punishment, organizers are unrepentant and will take the same step next year if Ukraine remains “occupied,” according to The Daily Mail.
The newspaper claims that the All England Club is in “no mood to back down” and believes that the ATP and WTA are firmly in the wrong.
The Mail also claims that UK tennis chiefs have been “heartened” by recent comments from International Olympic Committee (IOC) honorary member Craig Reedie, who said this week that Russian athletes are likely to be prevented from competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Any Wimbledon decision on the 2023 tournament would not be taken until March, the paper added.
In addition to being stripped of rankings points, Wimbledon and fellow UK tennis organization the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) were fined a total of $1 million by the WTA for refusing to allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete in Britain this summer.
Bosses at SW19 continue to insist their position is not discriminatory, even though the French Open allowed players from Russia and Belarus to feature under neutral status earlier this year – a stance which will be mirrored by the next Grand Slam at the US Open in August and September.
This year’s edition of Wimbledon came to a close last weekend, with many pointing to the irony that a Russian-born star ended up winning the women’s singles title.
Elena Rybakina represented Russia until 2018 before she switched to Kazakhstan due to the promise of more funding.
Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpischev has described Rybakina as a product of the system in Russia, proclaiming “we win Wimbledon” after the 23-year-old defeated Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur on Saturday.
Rybakina has been diplomatic in response to questions on her background, saying that she owes much of her success to Kazakhstan after switching nationalities.