The US Open champion and former world number one Daniil Medvedev will NOT be allowed to play in Wimbledon this year as part of sanctions against Russian and Belarusian players.
The ban could affect as many as a dozen players on the men’s and women’s tours, with world number four Aryna Sabalenka one of the most high-profile casualties of the All England Club’s decision.
A spokesperson for the governing body claimed that the Club had to play its part to ‘limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible.’
“In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players,” a statement from the All England Club confirmed.
“It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to Wimbledon.”
It’s a decision, whether right or wrong, that will greatly hamper the competitiveness of Wimbledon, which is set to get underway on June 27 and run through to July 10. Medvedev has reached at least the quarter-final stage of five of his last six Grand Slam appearances, including two finals each in the US and Australia Open. Sabalenka, meanwhile, reached the semis at SW10 last year, and is considered one of the most popular players on the circuit.
All told, five players ranked inside their respective top 20s – Medvedev, Sabalenka, Andrey Rublev, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Viktoria Azarenka – will all be forced to sit out the tournament, despite the fact that some of them have publicly denounced the war in Ukraine.
“This [Russia] is my home and my country. But now I am in complete fear, as are my friends and family,” Pavyluchenkova said.
“But I am not afraid to clearly state my position. I am against war and violence.
“I can only publicly disagree with these decisions taken and openly talk about it. Stop the violence, stop the war.”
Taking a Stand
The All England Club’s stance is in stark contrast to other major events around the world. Both Russian and Belarusian players have been cleared to compete in the upcoming French Open, with the only change being that their respective flags will not be displayed next to their names on the scoreboard.
“We will impose strict neutrality on Russian and Belarusian players,” said the French Tennis Federation’s (FFT) director general Amelie Oudéa-Castera.
“We adhere to the EU sports ministries and the countries around us….individual athletes are only banned if they are selected by their countries.”
The move has been met with both support and condemnation, with the government’s sports minister Nigel Huddleston previously suggesting that Russians ‘flying the flag’ for their country should be banned from Wimbledon – unless they come out and denounce the actions of Vladimir Putin in public.
the WTA’s chief, Steve Simon, is very much against that approach.
“I can tell you that we have never banned athletes from participating on our tour as the result of political positions their leadership may take,” he said.