ATP to take action against Wimbledon over Russian ban – reports
Sentiments among leading players are said to be strongly against the ban
Wimbledon is likely to be stripped of its rankings points by the ATP men’s tennis tour after a number of leading players condemned the tournament for its ban on Russian and Belarusian players, according to reports.
The decision could be ratified by the ATP board within the next 24 to 48 hours, according to The Telegraph, which reports that chief executive Andrea Gaudenzi “has little choice” but to follow the advice of players on the issue.
The decision would see Wimbledon deprived of its rankings points and would effectively turn this year’s event into an exhibition tournament.
The move has been on the cards since the ATP strongly condemned the announcement on April 20 by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which organizes the grass court showpiece, that it was banning Russian and Belarusian players because of the conflict in Ukraine.
The decision was mirrored by the UK Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), which will bar players from the two countries from all events in Britain this summer.
UK tennis officials have attempted to justify the ban by saying it is in line with government policy, and that the appearance of stars such as Russian men’s world number two Daniil Medvedev would somehow hand the Russian leadership a propaganda coup.
Both the men’s ATP and women’s WTA tours have suggested that the ban is discriminatory. The two tours have continued to allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutrals – a position shared by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
Men’s world number one Novak Djokovic has described the Wimbledon sanctions as “crazy,” while 21-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal also said he disagrees with the step. British two-time Wimbledon winner Andy Murray has said is “not supportive” of the ban.
The ATP Player Council includes Nadal, Murray and Swiss icon Roger Federer, as well as nine other men’s stars. Djokovic is part of a separate, independent union.
Players will have an important say in the matter, with three elected player representatives on the ATP board as well as three tournament representatives.
The Daily Mail has reported that a “revolt is brewing” over the issue and that meetings of the ATP hierarchy have been held recently at events in Madrid and Rome.
According to The Telegraph, the women’s WTA “is leaning towards” taking the same step as its male counterpart and is also set to remove rankings points from Wimbledon.
The London Grand Slam – with its mammoth £35 million ($43 million) prize money fund – will still be a major money-spinner for players but will not contribute towards their positions in the world rankings or the race to the end-of-season tour finals.
As a private members’ club, Wimbledon is free to decide which players it invites to the famous tournament at SW19.
Other UK events, however, are held under the auspices of the ATP and WTA and would likely be fined for their non-admittance of Russian and Belarusian players, as well as having rankings points removed.
Aside from US Open champion Medvedev, other big-name stars to be affected by the ban are Russian men’s world number seven Andrey Rublev, Belarusian women’s world number eight Aryna Sabalenka, and two-time Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka.
The French Open, which gets underway on May 22, has stated it will not follow in Wimbledon’s footsteps and will allow Russian and Belarusian players to appear as neutrals.