April 21, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier
As Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine continues, Wimbledon, one of the four major global tennis Grand Slam events, has banned Russian and Belarusian players from participating in the June tournament.
Given the two nations’ strong standing in the sport, the ban will have a noticeable effect on the tournaments’ draw, with four male players in the top 30 – including the men’s World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, who was runner up at the Australian Open in January – and five female players in the top 30 unable to take part.
“We recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime,” said Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club, which hosts Wimbledon.
We have very carefully considered the alternative measures that might be taken within the UK Government guidance but, given the high profile environment of The Championships, the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at the championships.”
French Grand Slam, the Roland Garros, which precedes Wimbledon at the end of May, has not excluded players from either Russia or Belarus from its event.
British tennis governing body, the Lawn Tennis Association, has also made the decision to refuse entry to players from both nations in all the lead up events to Wimbledon.
In its statement announcing the ban, Wimbledon said it was open to changing the policy should global circumstances change prior to the tournament.
With over $70 million in prize money on offer at last year’s event, the move also constitutes a move similar to sanctions many nations have been placing on wealthy Russian citizens since the invasion began.