Wimbledon chiefs are set to lift their ban on Russian and Belarusian players for the 2023 Championships, according to reports.
The All England Club decided to stop tennis players from Russia and Belarus from competing in 2022 amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Their call was a controversial one and split opinion, resulting in the ATP and WTA stripping the major tournament of its ranking points and also saw them fined.
The Lawn Tennis Association were slapped with an even bigger fine for their ban on Russian and Belarusian players at their five events in the UK – Queen’s Club, Eastbourne, Surbiton, Nottingham and Ilkley – and were stripped of points too.
But according to The Times, Wimbledon will now allow Russians and Belarusians to compete as normal when SW19 gets started next summer in the wake of British tennis being threatened with expulsion by the ATP.
Some players labelled this year’s Wimbledon an ‘exhibition’ – with stars such as Daniil Medvedev, who was world No.1 at the time, unable to take part – and there was more controversy when Elena Rybakina won the women’s singles title.
Rybakina, who has represented Kazakhstan for the last four years, faced persistent questioning over her Russian roots having represented the country from 2013-2018 with the Russian Tennis Federation labelling her ‘our product’ after her win.
Russian player Andrey Rublev – who went viral for writing ‘no war please’ on a camera at this year’s Dubai Tennis Championships – feels that the 2022 ban should not have been placed and says that he even suggested ‘solutions’ which would have involved Ukrainian players.
‘We offered some solutions that could be really helpful diplomatically – playing in mixed doubles with Ukrainians or not coming for the medals,’ Rublev said.
‘We wanted to use the platform of a championship to show that we don’t fight here, that there is no war in tennis. It’s most important now.
‘So whatever I’d say, the answer was, and is, the same. I couldn’t understand why they say so.’
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