The Princess of Wales would hand the 2023 Wimbledon trophy to a Russian or Belarusian tennis star, should a player from one of those nations triumph.
Russian and Belarusian players were banned from competing at the 2022 Championships by the All England Club amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The decision was a controversial one and saw last year’s iconic Grand Slam tennis tournament stripped of ranking points by the ATP and WTA.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and the war is still ongoing but Russian and Belarusian players are expected to return to SW19 for the 2023 event.
It is traditional for the Princess of Wales to present the Wimbledon singles trophies to the men’s and women’s champions and according to The Times, Kate Middleton will uphold that tradition should a Russian or Belarusian win a title.
There had been concerns over a high-profile British royal handing silverware over a player from one of those countries while the conflict in Ukraine continues, but the Princess of Wales – the All England Club’s patron – wishes to fulfil her duties.
As has been the case at other tennis tournaments on the ATP and WTA Tours, players from Russia and Belarus will have to compete under a neutral flag.
There is a good chance a Belarusian could walk away with the 2023 women’s singles title with Aryna Sabalenka – a semi-finalist in 2021 – ranked world No.2, while last year, Moscow-born Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan emerged victorious.
Russian star Andrey Rublev, ranked world No.7, will be set to compete in the men’s singles and he was critical of Wimbledon’s ban in 2022.
Rublev went viral for writing ‘no war please’ on a camera at last year’s Dubai Tennis Championships and feels Wimbledon chiefs could have used the 2022 tournament to send an anti-war message.
‘Everything I earn, I invest in my career and then I am forbidden from doing my work. It is upsetting for sure.
‘As a tennis player, I could deliver the right message from the court but I kept getting the same answer: The Russian government is going to use our results for propaganda.
‘So whatever I’d say, the answer was, and is, the same. I couldn’t understand why they say so.’
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