Andy Murray implores tennis not to lose focus about what’s important amidst Wimbledon move
Andy Murray has urged the tennis community to continue to support Ukrainian tennis players, saying focus should not be lost on their well-being following Wimbledon’s decision to reverse the ban on Russian and Belarusian players.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) banned Russian and Belarusian players from competing at all grass-court tournaments, including Wimbledon, in the United Kingdom last year following the invasion of the Ukraine in February.
However, both came in for heavy criticism with the ATP and WTA stripping Wimbledon of ranking points while the LTA was issued heavy fines. Both organisations made a U-turn in March as they confirmed that players from Russia and Ukraine will be allowed to compete this year.
In an interview with Tennis Majors, Murray admitted that AELTC and he LTA found themselves in a difficult position.
“I knew kind of ahead of time that that was sort of how it was going,” he said. “I think what’s really important is to continue to talk about what’s actually happening in Ukraine just now, not focusing on a few tennis players and a few athletes who may or may not be able to play major sporting events.”
He added: “It’s a difficult decision for Wimbledon. Obviously the rest of the sport had gone in a completely different direction to them, which made it very hard. But I don’t think this should be so much about that decision. I think it is distracting a little bit from actually what is taking place. You don’t want that to happen. You want the actual issue to be at the forefront of all of these discussions.”
The “actual issue” that Murray of course is referring to is the invasion of the Ukraine and the number of people affected by it.
Many Ukrainian tennis players have had family members caught up in the invasion and there has been talk that the tennis community is not doing enough to support the players with most of the focus on the Russian and Belarusian players.
Murray, who won the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award last year after he donated all his prize money to money to help those affected by the invasion of Ukraine, pleaded on the sport not to forget about the Ukrainian players.
“Obviously I have sympathy for the Ukrainian players,” he said. “I’ve seen that some of the female players (notably Elena Svitolina and Marta Kostyuk) have spoken out about how difficult they found it and maybe felt like they could have had more support as well through that.
“You need to understand their perspective as well, and not just the players that weren’t allowed to play last year. There are Ukrainian players on the tour whose families and everything (are affected) and they’re going through unbelievably difficult times as well. And that’s what’s important.”
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