Wimbledon news: WTA hits out at ‘discrimination’ over decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players

Shahida Jacobs
A logo at Wimbledon

The WTA has echoed the comments from their men’s counterparts, the ATP, as they accused the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) of “discrimination” following their decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from Wimbledon and other grass-court events.

After Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine in February, players from Russia and Belarus can only compete as individuals at ATP, WTA and ITF events as they play under a neutral flag and with no anthems played.

However, the LTA and AELTC went a step further on Wednesday as they announced that players from the two countries will not be allowed to compete at grass-court events in the UK, including Wimbledon.

Wimbledon and LTA confirm full UK grass court ban for Russian and Belarusian players

The ATP criticised the decision, saying” “We believe that today’s unilateral decision by Wimbledon and the LTA to exclude players from Russia and Belarus from this year’s British grass-court swing is unfair and has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game.”

And the WTA has also insisted that “individual athletes should not be penalized or prevented from competing”.

“The WTA strongly condemns the actions that have been taken by Russia and its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. We continue our humanitarian relief efforts to support Ukraine through Tennis Plays for Peace,” the full statement read.

“We are, however, very disappointed in today’s announcement by the AELTC and the LTA to ban individual athletes who are from Russia and Belarus from competing in the upcoming UK grass court events. A fundamental principal of the WTA is that individual athletes may participate in professional tennis events based on merit and without any form of discrimination. That principle is expressly set forth in our rules and has been agreed to by both AELTC and LTA. Prohibitions against discrimination are also clearly expressed in their own rules and the Grand Slam rules.

“As the WTA has consistently stated, individual athletes should not be penalized or prevented from competing due to where they are from, or the decisions made by the governments of their countries. Discrimination, and the decision to focus such discrimination against athletes competing on their own as individuals, is neither fair nor justified. The WTA will continue to apply its rules to reject discrimination and ensure that all athletes are able to compete at our Tour events should they qualify to do so, a position that until today’s announcement has been shared across professional tennis. The WTA will be evaluating its next steps and what actions may be taken regarding these decisions.”