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Tennis Tours Penalize Wimbledon Over Ban on Russian Players

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The ATP’s and WTA’s move, made after extensive internal debate and despite pushback from players and pleas from Wimbledon officials, is anticipated to have little effect on the tournament’s bottom line. The world’s top men’s players who aren’t from Russia and Belarus are still expected to participate. Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 men’s player from Serbia and a six-time Wimbledon champion, made it clear on Sunday after winning the Italian Open in Rome that he wouldn’t support skipping the event in protest even when he remained against the choice to bar the Russian and Belarusian players.

“A boycott is a really aggressive thing,” Djokovic said. “There are significantly better solutions.”

This yr’s Wimbledon champions will still lift the identical trophies hoisted by their predecessors and have their names inscribed on the dignity roll posted contained in the clubhouse of the All England Club. And neither attendance nor news media coverage of Wimbledon is anticipated to dip. The winners shall be considered legitimate Grand Slam champions.

However the leadership of the ATP, including its player council, which incorporates stars like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, ultimately decided that it was essential to take a robust stand against the ban on individual players so as to dissuade tournaments from barring players — now or in the longer term — based on political concerns.

“How do you draw the road of while you ban players and while you don’t?” Yevgeny Kafelnikov, a Russian and a former No. 1 singles player, said in a telephone interview from Moscow.

Unlike Wimbledon, the lead-in events in Britain haven’t been stripped of rating points despite being formally a part of the tours. Wimbledon, as a Grand Slam event, operates independently but does have agreements with the tours on many levels, including rating points. However the ATP and WTA selected to not strip points from the British lead-in events because other tournaments situated on the European continent were still open to Russian and Belarusian players during those three weeks of the grasscourt season. The WTA did announce that it was putting the British tour events in Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne on probation due to the ban.

Russia-Ukraine War: Key Developments

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Russia’s punishment of Finland. Russia will cut natural gas supplies to Finland on May 21, based on Finland’s state energy provider. Russia said that it was suspending the availability because Finland had did not comply with its demand to make payments in rubles. Finland has also submitted an application to hitch NATO, angering Russia.

There was also the priority that without rating points on offer, players would decide to withdraw from the British grasscourt tournaments. Wimbledon, with its huge prize money and prestige, is unlikely to experience such withdrawals even without points but there could still be some attrition.

Wimbledon had come under pressure from the British government to act. The tournament opted for a ban after rejecting the federal government’s suggestion that Russian and Belarusian players provide “written declarations” that they weren’t representing their countries; that they weren’t receiving state funding or sponsorship from corporations with strong links to the Russian state; and that they’d not and wouldn’t express support for the invasion of Ukraine or their countries’ leadership. There was above all concern that signing such a declaration could put players or their families in danger and likewise concern that the choice wouldn’t be available to all Russian and Belarusian competitors. Junior players, for instance, are routinely funded by the Russian and Belarusian tennis federations and would thus have been unlikely to be eligible to sign.

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