Officials for the men’s and women’s tours argued that Russian and Belarusian players should not be blamed for their countries’ invasion or policies, noting that several prominent players, including Russian stars Andrey Rublev, were ranked No. 8 in singles masculine. and Pavlyuchenkova have spoken out against the war.
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“I strongly believe that again these individual athletes should not be the ones who are being penalized by the decisions of authoritarian leadership who are obviously doing terrible and reprehensible things,” said Steve Simon, head of the WTA, in an interview with the BBC last month. last. “But if that happens, which is again part of the overall strategy of making Russia and Russian citizens pay for the decision that their government made, then it will not be something that we support.”
Wimbledon, the oldest Grand Slam tournament, is probably an outlier on this topic. The French Open, which starts next month and is the next Grand Slam tournament on the schedule, has not indicated that it intends to ban individual players. Nor the US Open, which will be held in New York at the end of August and beginning of September. For now, the usual events of the tour, such as this week’s events in Barcelona; Belgrade, Serbia; Istanbul; and Stuttgart, Germany continue to have Russians and Belarusians in their draws.
But Wimbledon, which begins June 27 in London, has been under considerable pressure from the British government, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to take a tougher stance. Nigel Huddleston, the British sports minister, told a parliamentary hearing last month that Russian players like Medvedev may need to give “guarantees” that they will not support President Vladimir V. Putin in order to play at Wimbledon.
But the tournament, arguably still the most prestigious in the sport, has apparently decided not to require players to speak out against their governments for fear this could put them or their families in a precarious situation. A ban, while not part of Wimbledon officials’ initial thinking, would prevent players from having to make that decision.
Wimbledon has not barred individual athletes from specific countries since the aftermath of World War II, when players from Germany, Japan and other nations were not allowed to play in the tournament.