ATP, WTA Hit Back At Wimbledon As Things Escalate Over Russia, Belarus Ban
Things escalated quickly following Wimbledon’s bold announcement that they are banning players from Russia and Belarus from competing at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club this June.
The ATP fired off their own release suggesting the move was a “damaging precedent for the game” and a “violation” of their entry agreement:
We believe that today’s unilateral decision by Wimbledon and the LTA to exclude players from Russia and Belarus from this year’s British grass-court swing is unfair and has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game. Discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of our agreement with Wimbledon that states that player entry is based solely on ATP Rankings. Any course of action in response to this decision will now be assessed in consultation with our Board and Member councils.
The WTA echoed the ATP:
As the WTA has consistently stated, individual athletes should not be penalized or prevented from competing due to where they are from, or the decisions made by the governments of their countries. Discrimination, and the decision to focus such discrimination against athletes competing on their own as individuals, is neither fair nor justified. The WTA will continue to apply its rules to reject discrimination and ensure that all athletes are able to compete at our Tour events should they qualify to do so, a position that until today’s announcement has been shared across professional tennis. The WTA will be evaluating its next steps and what actions may be taken regarding these decisions.
Good for both tours to stand up and fight here. And it means it’s Wimbledon vs. ATP/WTA with two months to go.
Wimbledon is allowed to award ATP/WTA ranking points because they follow the rankings. In this case, Wimbledon is not using the “merit-based” rankings so the tours could pull the points and a whole lot more. More like…
Player boycott? It could happen depending on how things go from here, especially if the top players come out against Wimbledon’s move. But battle lines have been drawn. Luckily, there’s still months to go and Wimbledon entries don’t close until mid-May. So there’s time and my guess is things will get resolved otherwise it will get real ugly.
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