John McEnroe on Wimbledon and ATP-WTA’s tit-for-tat spat: ‘It’s just a damn shame that it’s come to this’

John McEnroe Wimbledon commentator

John McEnroe has lamented the All England Tennis Club’s (AELTC) decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from Wimbledon while also “disagrees with the ATP and the WTA about not giving points for the tournament”.

World No 1 Daniil Medvedev as well as fellow Russians Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov and Daria Kasatkina – to name a few – won’t compete at next week’s grass-court Grand Slam while on the Belarusian side former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka are absent after AELTC decided to ban players from the two countries following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.

The ATP and WTA – who allow players to compete as individuals under a neutral flag – then retaliated by stripping Wimbledon of all ranking points.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion McEnroe admits he was unimpressed by both decision.

“I disagreed with the All England Club not allowing the Russians and Belarusians to play. And I disagree with the ATP and the WTA about not giving points for the tournament,” he told ESPN.

“I know it’s a horrific situation. It seemed like a lose-lose decision when they made it. There’s not a lot of good decisions. But if you notice, in other sports and in other tournaments, they’re allowing the Russians to play. I don’t get why at Wimbledon it was decided that they’re not allowed to play. That’s where we’re going to make a stand.

“You’re asking them to denounce something where they’re afraid if they do so that their family, friends or relatives could get arrested or thrown in prison for 15 years. So that seemed like something you can’t possibly ask the players to do.

“Then you take away the points. Let’s say if Djokovic wins the tournament again, he’s going to drop even further in the rankings, which makes no sense.

“The other part of your question is will it affect the players at the tournament. I don’t believe it’s going to affect too many players at the tournament. It is Wimbledon, after all. It’s one of, if not the biggest tournament we have. To me it’s always been the US Open and Wimbledon are the biggest events.

“It’s just a damn shame that it’s come to this, especially when you notice that Medvedev is ranked No 1 right now, of all things. You have another player, Andrey Rublev, who is 7 or 8 in the world. You have a third guy who reached the quarters last year, Khachanov. You have two Belorussians in the top 15, I think. It’s very unfortunate it’s come to this. I was hoping something would change before, but it hasn’t.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen as far as what they’re going to do with the points. I don’t know how they’re going to figure that out, I really don’t.”