Russian and Belarusian Wimbledon spots in doubt as they experience visa delays

Mirra Andreeva during a match

Russian and Belarusian players are experiencing delays in obtaining UK visas in time for Wimbledon.

The All England Club and the Lawn Tennis Association reversed last year’s ban on competitors from the two countries following the invasion of Ukraine but there appears a chance some may not make it anyway.

Sixteen-year-old Mirra Andreeva is due to make her Wimbledon debut in qualifying but said after losing to Coco Gauff in the third round in Paris on Saturday that she was still waiting to be granted a visa.

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka has also spoken about not having received her visa while world number two Daniil Medvedev pointedly said “if I’m able to come to UK to play Wimbledon” when talking about the grass-court season.

The Home Office is carrying out additional checks on Russian and Belarusian nationals, extending a wait that is currently at least six weeks, while fast-track options are not available to people from the two countries.

Wimbledon begins on July 3 and, speaking after reaching the French Open quarter-finals, Russian Karen Khachanov, who still has a visa from previous years, said: “I heard that it takes much longer to issue the visa.”

Under normal circumstances, Andreeva would be a strong candidate for a Wimbledon wild card, but it appears hugely unlikely the All England Club would offer such help at the moment.

Fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, meanwhile, is set to miss the tournament because she is not currently ranked high enough to get into the main draw or qualifying.

Pavlyuchenkova is a former French Open finalist but was sidelined long term following knee surgery.

Pavlyuchenkova, the 2021 runner-up, became the first woman through to the French Open quarter-finals after rallying from a set and a break down to dump out Belgian 28th seed Elise Mertens 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 herself fresh off a big win over Jessica Pegula.

The Russian, whose ranking has plunged to 333 after the serious knee injury kept her sidelined for months, and she is the lowest-ranked Grand Slam quarter-finalist since the 2017 US Open.

Pavlyuchenkova will take on Karolina Muchova for a place in the last four after the Czech saw off lucky loser Elina Avanesyan 6-4, 6-3.

She is showing strong form in Paris, in making it through to the quarter-finals, but when she was asked whether she could seek a Wimbledon wildcard she scoffed.

Pavlyuchenkova said incredulously: “Are you serious? Do you think after the situation last year they would give me a wildcard this year?”

READ MORE: Coco Gauff ends 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva’s run at French Open