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ATP, WTA Tours retaliate against Wimbledon for banning Russian, Belarusian athletes

Britain Wimbledon Tennis
Posted at 1:24 PM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 15:00:34-04

Amid Wimbledon’s decision to ban players from Russia or Belarus from participating in this year’s tournament, both the ATP and WTA Tours announced Friday that they are stripping the tournament of its ranking points barring any change in circumstance.

Wimbledon’s decision prevents several top starts from entering the tournament. The Tours' responses are meant to apply pressure on one of tennis' top events to reverse its decision.

The move was due to Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. Belarus is considered a strong Russian ally and has helped Russia in its battle.

"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,” Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club, said last month.

The ATP Tour said decisions like the one made by Wimbledon need to be done collectively.

“Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a whole. Unilateral decisions of this nature, if unaddressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the Tour. Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable on a Tour that operates in more than 30 countries,” the ATP Tour said.

The WTA Tour also cited discrimination in its decision.

"The WTA believes that individual athletes participating in an individual sport should not be penalized or prevented from competing solely because of their nationalities or the decisions made by the governments of their countries," the leading women's tour said.

Both the WTA and ATP Tours have released statements condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ATP Tour said its condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “remains unequivocal.”

“Immediate action was taken to suspend the ATP Tour event in Moscow and have Russian and Belarusian athletes compete under neutral flags on Tour,” the ATP Tour said. “In parallel, we have continued our humanitarian support for Ukraine, together with the other governing bodies of tennis, as well as providing direct financial assistance to many affected players.”

Wimbledon’s ban prohibits Daniil Medvedev, the defending U.S. Open Champion, and the world’s No. 7 Andrey Rublev, from entering the men’s draw. The decision bans the No. 7 women’s player Aryna Sabalenka, a semifinalist at last year’s Wimbledon, from participating.