Russian and Belarusian players have also been banned from LTA grass court tournaments this summer; US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, men's world number eight Andrey Rublev and women's fourth-ranked Aryna Sabalenka will be banned from featuring at Wimbledon under the ruling
Thursday 21 April 2022 17:03, UK
Russian and Belarusian players will be banned from competing at this year’s Wimbledon.
The All England Club made the announcement on Wednesday, ruling out US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, men's world number eight Andrey Rublev and women's fourth-ranked Aryna Sabalenka from featuring in the Grand Slam.
Medvedev reached the fourth round of Wimbledon last year, while Sabalenka was a beaten semi-finalist.
Russian world number 15 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Belarus' Victoria Azarenka - a two-time Australian Open champion - will also miss out.
Russian and Belarusian players have also been banned from LTA grass court tournaments this summer.
The All England Club said in a statement: "We share in the universal condemnation of Russia's illegal actions and have carefully considered the situation in the context of our duties to the players, to our community and to the broader UK public as a British sporting institution."
The statement went on to say: "If circumstances change materially between now and June, we will consider and respond accordingly."
Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club, said: "We recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime.
"We have very carefully considered the alternative measures that might be taken within the UK Government guidance but, given the high profile environment of The Championships, the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at The Championships."
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston welcomed the "decisive action" taken by Wimbledon, saying: "The UK has taken a leading role internationally to make clear that President Putin must not be able to use sport to legitimise Russia's barbaric invasion of Ukraine.
"Whilst the withdrawal of individual athletes is a complex issue that will divide opinion, there is a bigger cause at stake.
"We have set out our position with sport governing bodies and event organisers and will continue to encourage them to take appropriate action for their sport."
To date, Russian and Belarusian athletes have been permitted to continue playing in ATP, WTA and ITF competitions as long as they do so under a neutral flag and with no anthem played.
An ATP statement read: "We strongly condemn Russia's reprehensible invasion of Ukraine and stand in solidarity with the millions of innocent people affected by the ongoing war.
"Our sport is proud to operate on the fundamental principles of merit and fairness, where players compete as individuals to earn their place in tournaments based on the ATP Rankings.
"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.
"Discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of our agreement with Wimbledon that states that player entry is based solely on ATP Rankings.
"Any course of action in response to this decision will now be assessed in consultation with our Board and Member councils.
"It is important to stress that players from Russia and Belarus will continue to be allowed to compete at ATP events under a neutral flag, a position that has until now been shared across professional tennis.
"In parallel, we will continue our joint humanitarian support for Ukraine under Tennis Plays for Peace."
A WTA statement read: "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.
"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."
The Kremlin said on Wednesday a ban on Russian players would hurt Wimbledon itself given Russia's tennis prowess and was "unacceptable".
"Given that Russia is a strong tennis country the competitions [which take this decision] will suffer from this," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
"To make sports people hostages of political intrigue is unacceptable. I hope the players won't lose their fitness."
The Grand Slam begins on Monday, June 27 and concludes on Sunday, July 10.