The Wimbledon ban in Russia leaves players stuck in between – The Washington Post

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WIMBLEDON, England – As the rankings have shaken individually ahead of Wimbledon, 16 players in the top 100 will miss due to a ban by the All England Club of athletes from Russia and Belarus. A club that organizes the world’s most respected tennis tournament made that decision in April due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Belarusian support for the invasion.

For men, they are players rated first, eighth, 22nd, 40th and 43rd – four Russians and a Belarusian. For women, they are players in sixth, 13th, 20th, 21st, 30th, 35th, 47th, 69th, 78th, 83rd and 87th place – eight Russians and three Belarusians.

“Yes, I think it was hard,” said Cameron Norrie, the top-ranked British men’s player in 12th place, he said here on Saturday. “It was difficult, you know. Morally they did the right thing. I like that they handled it nicely. But I feel for a few players, especially for Daniel [Medvedev, No. 1 in the world,] and Andrew [Rublev, No. 8], who have a good chance of winning the tournament. So I really sympathize with these guys who are so dedicated to tennis and so professional. ”

With the absence of Medvedev and the second number of Alexander Zverev, the latter due to ankle surgery, this is the first time in the 49-year history of the ladder that Wimbledon will miss the first two men. But Wimbledon had a male draw far worse than this: in 1973, about 81 players – including 13 of the top 16 – boycotted a protest against the suspension of Yugoslav player Nikola Pilic.

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Near the top, the women’s side will miss 6. Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, a semifinalist last year; no. 13 Daria Kasatkina from Russia; 20. Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, two-time Australian Open champion; and no. 21 Veronica Kudermetova from Russia. As for the men, Medvedev (26) and Rublev (24) did not surpass the fourth round of Wimbledon, but both reached that stage last year. Medvedev is the current champion of the US Open, and Rublev is a five-time quarterfinalist of the Grand Slam tournament, including the French Open this month.

As the players came for weekend talks, they reiterated their views on the bans. Novak Djokovic, a three-time defending champion and 20-time main champion, was third in the world, but the main holder here, he referenced in the 1990s when his warring homeland, then Yugoslavia, pulled off bans and disqualifications for events such as the 1992 European Championships. in football, the 1994 World Cup, the 1996 European Championships and, to some extent, the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Moderate and respectful in his statements, Djokovic said: “What I can say is that a child of war – several wars, in fact, during the 1990s – I know what it feels like to be in a position. But on the other hand, I cannot say that I completely agree with the ban on competition for Russian tennis players, Belarusian tennis players for an indefinite period of time. I just don’t see how they’ve contributed to something that’s really going on. I mean, I don’t feel it’s fair. … I feel they deserve to win. They deserve to compete. They are professional athletes. None of them supported any war or anything like that. It is very sensitive. Once something like this happens on the big stage, everything you really say as a person working from one country or another, you know, will be judged one way or another. I understand both sides. It’s really hard to say what’s right and what’s not. “

In the players ’remarks this weekend, the problem seemed to be absorbed and resolved although it is still confusing, as was the idea that the ban would mean players will not earn points in the standings for their performance at Wimbledonan obstacle for those who want to move up.

“I’ve always said that my idea is not to mix politics and sports because, at the end of the story, athletes are affected,” said Ons Jabeur, a Tunisian who is second in the world. “The players couldn’t play in the tournament and we couldn’t get points, so in the end no one wins.”

“I feel I understand both sides of the situation,” said 18-year-old American Coco Gauff, a French Open finalist who did not shy away from her own voice on important things. “For me, it is a difficult decision only because I know a lot of Belarusian and Russian athletes from the women’s side. I know, at least those I’ve talked to definitely don’t support what’s happening in Ukraine right now. But I also understand the side of trying to put global pressure on the Russian government to withdraw from Ukraine, maybe how sport can … affect that. ”

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“I’ve talked about it a lot of times,” said Andy Murray, a two-time Wimbledon champion. “I understand why the decision was made. I also know a lot, on the male side, of Russian players and Belarusian players pretty well. Friendly with them. I get along well with them. Yes, I’m sorry for them too. I can also understand the frustration on their part. As for the ATP response [about rankings points], I didn’t quite agree with that. I just don’t see who it’s helping. “

Serena Williams, seven-time champion returns to singles tennis for the first time since Wimbledon in 2021 he decided to refrain from commenting.

In a dream day one Sunday in London, the embassies were quiet, even as the sidewalk in front of the Russian narrowed so that metal barricades could be set up. Just a few steps away, the Czech embassy had the Czech and Ukrainian flags on the front window. Further down the street near Holland Park and the Ukrainian Embassy, ​​the statue of St. Volodymyr, ruler from 980 to 1015, was decorated with several flags. Inscriptions nearby read “THE WORLD KNOWS THE TRUTH” and “STOP THE WAR NOW.”

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