Rafael Nadal says ‘players might need to take a stand’ against ‘unfair’ Wimbledon ban on Russian players

Shahida Jacobs
Rafael Nadal press conference

Rafael Nadal has criticised the decision by the All England Club (AELTC) and Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to ban Russian and Belarusian players from all grass-court events in the United Kingdom, including Wimbledon, revealing that players will consider in the “coming weeks” if they “need to take a stand”.

Players from Russia and Belarus are able to compete as individuals at ATP, WTA and ITF events following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine in February, but their countries’ flags and anthems are banned.

However, AELTC and LTA went a step further in April as they decided to ban players from the two countries and it means world No 2 and reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev as well as Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov, Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka, among others, won’t play at The Championships this year.

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The decision has been criticised by world No 1 Novak Djokovic and tennis great Martina Navritilova and Nadal has added his voice to the chorus.

“It’s unfair for my Russian colleagues,” the Spaniard said. “In that sense it’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war.

“I’m sorry for them. I wish it was not this way, but at the end of the day we know that this is what we have.”

The 21-time Grand Slam winner insisted that the decision was “wrong” and indicated that players might consider taking the matter further.

“As a fellow player, what can I say? I feel sorry for them,” he said.

“I wish this was not the case. Let’s see what happens in the coming weeks and let’s see if we as players need to take a stand.

“There is something wrong.”

The ban on Russian and Ukrainian players did not come from the UK government and Nadal feels Wimbledon went too far.

“When a government orders something, you need to follow the rules,” he said.

“In this case, the government issued a recommendation and Wimbledon decided to impose the most drastic option without being forced to do so.”

There has been talk that ranking points could be frozen as the Russian and Belarusian players will miss out due to the ban.

“We know that Slams are outside the ATP, but as ATP we grant them the most points of all events,” Nadal said.

“They are the most important. The 2,000 points, whenever we go to the Grand Slams, they are really important and we have to go to those tournaments.

“So we will have to see the measures that we take, and it’s very unfair thing for them, for sure.”