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Tennis Federations hit back at Wimbledon

Tennis Federations hit back at Wimbledon
ARYNA SABALENKA

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THE TWO international bodies representing the world’s leading lawn tennis players, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) have both taken strong action in response to the decision of the Wimbledon tennis authorities of Britain to ban players from Russia and Belarusia from competing in the prestigious Wimbledon Grand Slam this year.

The decision which was announced last month is apparently as a result of the Russian war with Ukraine and in response to political pressures from the UK government which strongly supports Ukraine in the conflict. It means that leading players from those countries such as world No. 2 men’s player Daniel Medvedev, a Russian, and leading female players, Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka will not be able to participate.

Several of the world’s leading players have spoken out against the ban, calling it discriminatory.

They have now received backing from their respective federations. The ATP and WTA announced last Friday that they will not be allocating ranking points for the Wimbledon tournament. These points are awarded to players in major competitions based on performance and count towards the end of year rankings including the award of places in the lucrative end of year competitions.

The ATP stated that it had made its decision “with great regret and reluctance” but that it considered the action to be “necessary” in the circumstances. It is of the view that the Wimbledon ban undermines the principle of non-discrimination on which the ATP is founded.

The participation of players in such tournaments should be based on merit, not on other non-recognized criteria.

The women’s body, the WTA, also raised the matter of principle. In a statement it stated that the WTA is “founded on the fundamental principle that all players should have equal opportunity to compete based on merit and without discrimination”.

Previously, the world’s two leading male players, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had openly criticized the Wimbledon organizers for imposing the ban. Other players have been speaking out also.

The black American player, Sloane Stephens has said that she supports the actions of the two tennis federations not to award points for Wimbledon. She is a member of the WTA’s Players’ Confederation.

Her male American counterpart, John Isner has also been critical of the Wimbledon ban. He believes that Russian and Belarusian players should have the right to compete and expressed support for the ATP’s decision as a result.

Unfortunately, players will suffer from both sets of actions. One set by not being able to play at Wimbledon and so not being able to qualify for prize money and appearance fees on one hand, while there will be no points on offer to count towards the end of year jackpot. Either way, the players suffer from what is yet another demonstration of political interference and discrimination.

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