Wimbledon to drop its Russian and Belarusian player ban – reports
British tennis officials plan to lift the contentious ban on players from Belarus and Russia before this year’s Wimbledon tournament, according to reports published this weekend.
The British government exerted pressure on the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and the All England Club to enact a ban after Russia invaded Ukraine last year, with material support provided by Belarus.
All five Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tournaments held by the LTA, including the storied Queen’s Club event in London, eventually banned Russian and Belarusian players.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which is responsible for the administration of Wimbledon, imposed a similar ban.
The ATP, which oversees the men’s professional tour, retaliated to the suspension by fining British tennis $1 million, with the LTA receiving $750,000 of the fine and the AELTC receiving $250,000.
Wimbledon lost its ranking points as a result of sanctions from the ATP and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
That ranking penalty harshly impacted Wimbledon finalists Novak Djokovic, Nick Kyrgios, Elena Rybakina and Ons Jabeur.
“All expectations suggest that the AELTC will lower the ban on Russians and Belarusians,” a report from the Daily Telegraph read.
However, they would add that players from Russia and Belarus may need to sign a declaration promising they will not “promote or glorify” Russia president Vladimir Putin’s war in any way during the tournament.
Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim also suggested that the ban could be lifted.
“Hearing that Wimbledon and the LTA will NOT repeat last year’s decision to prohibit the Russians/Belarusians from competing,” he tweeted.
When prodded the AELTC proved unable to provide any sort of update regarding the ban.
“We are continuing to work very closely with the UK Government and key stakeholders in tennis on this matter,” a spokesperson told AFP.
The WTA has offered to halve the fine they imposed on the LTA for barring players in 2022, if they reverse the ban this year.
While the LTA argues that the sanctions imposed upon them were not fair they hope to avoid further issues with the professional tours.
“As we have said before, we disagree with the outcome and the fines levied,” said an LTA spokesperson last month.
“Nevertheless, our current focus is on working with the WTA, ATP, ITF, AELTC and UK government in order to find a resolution for events in 2023.”
The 2023 edition of the Championships Wimbledon runs from July 3-16 at the All England Club.
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