Wimbledon has its ranking points stripped by ATP and WTA
The ATP and WTA have reduced this year's Wimbledon Championships to an exhibition event after the removal of all Russian and Belarusian players from attending; ITF withdraws points for Wimbledon juniors, wheelchair events
Last Updated: 21/05/22 7:11am
Wimbledon has had its ranking points stripped by the ATP and WTA in response to barring Russian and Belarusian players from this summer's Grand Slam.
Russian and Belarusian players were last month banned from competing at this year's Wimbledon due to the invasion of Ukraine, a decision which both the WTA and ATP criticised.
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Wimbledon chairman Ian Hewitt said the UK Government had left them with "no viable alternative" but to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year's Championships.
Hewitt said the club was left with only two options - an outright ban or forcing players to sign declarations condemning the invasion of Ukraine.
Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have all spoken out against the ban.
"The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our Tour," the ATP said in a statement.
"The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP Ranking system. It is also inconsistent with our Rankings agreement.
"Absent a change in circumstances, it is with great regret and reluctance that we see no option but to remove ATP Ranking points from Wimbledon for 2022."
The statement continued: "Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a whole. Unilateral decisions of this nature, if unaddressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the Tour. Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable on a Tour that operates in more than 30 countries.
"We greatly value our long-standing relationships with Wimbledon and the LTA and do not underestimate the difficult decisions faced in responding to recent UK Government guidance.
"However, we note that this was informal guidance, not a mandate, which offered an alternative option that would have left the decision in the hands of individual players competing as neutral athletes through a signed declaration.
"Our internal discussions with affected players in fact led us to conclude this would have been a more agreeable option for the Tour.
"We remain hopeful of further discussions with Wimbledon leading to an acceptable outcome for all concerned. More broadly, we believe this matter again highlights the need for a united governance structure across professional tennis so that decisions of this nature can be made in a joint manner."
WTA and ITF follow suit in stripping ranking points
Steve Simon, WTA Chairman, said in a statement: "As a result of the AELTC's position that it will not honour its obligation to use the WTA Rankings for entry into Wimbledon and proceed with a partial field not based on merit, the WTA has made the difficult decision to not award WTA ranking points for this year's Wimbledon Championships.
"The stance we are taking is about protecting the equal opportunities that WTA players should have to compete as individuals.
"If we do not take this stance, then we abandon our fundamental principle and allow the WTA to become an example to support discrimination based on nationality at other events and in other regions around the world. The WTA will continue to apply its rules to reject such discrimination."
The International Tennis Federation has also confirmed its decision not to grant ranking points to Wimbledon for Juniors and Wheelchair events.
"The ITF has determined that Wimbledon's entry criteria banning Russians and Belarusians compromises the integrity of its international competition, in particular its ranking system, as there is a lack of alternative equivalent opportunities for players to compete for ranking points and prize money," it said in a statement.
Wimbledon stands by decision
Wimbledon organisers said they had "deep disappointment" at the removal of ranking points, but added they stood by their decision.
A statement read: "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.
"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."
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'We deeply regret today's decision'
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries criticised the decision and said it does not send the right message to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
She said: "The international sporting community rightly moved quickly and came together to condemn Putin's illegal and barbaric actions in Ukraine.
"Given the importance of sport and cultural bodies in making the Russian government an international pariah, we stand squarely behind the decision that Wimbledon and the LTA have taken to stand up for what is right.
"We deeply regret today's decision and urge the ATP, WTA and the ITF to consider their stance on ranking points at the Championships. It does not send the right message to either Putin or the people of Ukraine."
The move by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) is the first time players have been banned on grounds of nationality since the immediate post-World War Two era when German and Japanese players were excluded.