Wimbledon didn’t want to ‘risk safety of players’ or ‘success being used as propaganda by Russian regime’

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The All England Club (AELTC) has sniped back at the ATP, WTA and ITF over their decision to strip Wimbledon of ranking points in the wake of the ban on Russian and Belarusian players.

AELTC and the Lawn Tennis Association angered the three tennis bodies after they went against their wishes and banned players from the two countries from competing at all grass-court events in the United Kingdom on the back of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.

The move was criticised by several top players, including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, but it was decided earlier this week that the ATP and WTA events in the UK would keep their ranking points.

However, the ATP and WTA on Friday dropped a bombshell as both confirmed that Wimbledon would be stripped of ranking points.

ATP statement: Wimbledon slammed for ‘undermining integrity of the ATP Ranking system’

The ATP stated that Wimbledon was “undermining integrity of the ATP Ranking system” while the WTA felt it “violated its fundamental principles”.

Wimbledon also issued a strongly worded reply in which it explained why it didn’t want to ask players to sign a declaration stating they don’t support the Russian regime.

Full statement: “On behalf of the All England Club and the Committee of Management of The Championships, we write in response to the decisions taken by the ATP, WTA and ITF Boards to remove ATP, WTA and ITF ranking points for The Championships 2022.

“We appreciate that opinions differ in relation to our decision to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships this year, and we deeply regret the impact of this decision on the individuals affected.

“However, given the position taken by the UK Government to limit Russia’s global influence, which removed automatic entry by ranking, and the widespread response of Government, industry, sport and creative institutions, we remain of the view that we have made the only viable decision for Wimbledon as a globally renowned sporting event and British institution, and we stand by the decision we have made.

“As we have previously stated, after careful consideration against a variety of factors, and bound to act in accordance with the directive guidance from the UK Government, we came to two firm conclusions that formed the basis for this decision.

“We were not prepared to take any actions which could risk the personal safety of players, or their families. We believe that requiring written declarations from individual players – and that would apply to all relevant players – as a condition of entry in the high-profile circumstances of Wimbledon would carry significant scrutiny and risk.

“In addition, we remain unwilling to accept success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime, which, through its closely controlled State media, has an acknowledged history of using sporting success to support a triumphant narrative to the Russian people.

“We therefore wish to state our deep disappointment at the decisions taken by the ATP, WTA and ITF in removing ranking points for The Championships. We believe these decisions to be disproportionate in the context of the exceptional and extreme circumstances of this situation and the position we found ourselves in, and damaging to all players who compete on Tour.

“We are considering our options, and we are reserving our position at this stage. We are also in discussion with our Grand Slam colleagues.

“In the meantime, we remain focused on our exciting plans for The Championships this year.”