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Russian and Belarusian players have been barred from playing at this year’s Wimbledon. Photo: dpa

Wimbledon stripped of ranking points as ATP and WTA criticise Russia ban

  • Tennis bodies say the tournament’s ban, imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, undermines integrity of the ranking system
  • ‘We remain unwilling to accept success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit propaganda machine of Russian regime,’ say tournament organisers
The world’s most prestigious tennis tournament was set on a collision course with the sport’s global governing bodies after Wimbledon had its ranking points stripped by the ATP and WTA tours over excluding players from Russia and Belarus.
The move by the men’s and women’s tours will reduce Wimbledon to an exhibition event but the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC), Wimbledon’s organiser, repeated its stance that the ban was the only viable option under British government guidance.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) also said it would not grant ranking points to Wimbledon this year for junior and wheelchair tennis events.

The AELTC decision to impose the suspension on Russian and Belarusian players at this year’s championships due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine is the first time players have been excluded on grounds of nationality since the immediate post-World War II era when German and Japanese players were banned.

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The AELTC on Friday said it was considering its options and was in discussions with other grand-slam tournaments.

“In addition, we remain unwilling to accept success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime,” the AELTC said in a statement.

“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.”

The ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) and WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) have themselves banned Russia and Belarus from international team competitions following the invasion, which Moscow calls a “special operation”, but allowed players from the two countries to compete as neutrals.

“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.”

WTA chief Steve Simon said the tour believed athletes participating in an individual sport “should not be penalised or prevented from competing solely because of their nationalities or the decisions made by the governments of their countries”.

“The recent decisions made by the [AELTC] and the Lawn Tennis Association [British tennis’ governing body] to ban athletes from competing in the upcoming UK grass-court events violate that fundamental principle,” Simon said.

“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.”

Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian competitors has been slammed by top players such as 21-times grand-slam champion Rafael Nadal, who labelled it unfair, while world No 1 Novak Djokovic said he did not support the decision.

“Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a whole,” the ATP said. “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.

Russia’s Andrey Rublev will be among the players affected by the ban. Photo: Pool via Reuters

“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.”

Britain’s LTA followed the Wimbledon ban by excluding players from the two countries from its tune-up tour events.

However, the WTA said its tournaments in Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne would go ahead with ranking points on offer, because “alternative and comparable playing and ranking point opportunities exist in the same weeks”.

The ATP had also said that its events at Queen’s and in Eastbourne would proceed as normal, offering full ranking points.

While the LTA tournaments will continue to offer full ranking points, the British governing body is under review for sanctions from the ATP and WTA.

The ITF justified its decision not to award ranking points to Wimbledon this year for junior and wheelchair tennis events by saying it undermined the integrity of the competition.

“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.