The third major of the season, The Wimbledon Championships, has issued a statement in response to the decision taken by the ATP, WTA, and ITF to remove all ranking points, following the grand slam resolution to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing at the event.
“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,” the statement reads.
The organizers further addressed that the decision to ban the players from the nationalities at war came through “two firm conclusions that formed the basis for this decision”.
Adding: “We believe that requiring written declarations from individual players and that would apply to all relevant players as a condition of entry in the high-profile circumstances of Wimbledon would carry significant scrutiny and risk.”
UK Government guidance contemplates as an alternative option to take a signed declaration from individual players competing as neutral athletes.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine happened in February, competitors from those nationalities have been playing on the ATP and WTA Tours under a neutral flag.
Reinforcing the tournament’s position on the player’s ban, The Championships further remarked: “We remain unwilling to accept success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime.”
“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.”
The statement responded to the unprecedented announcement made earlier on Friday by tennis governing bodies to strip ranking points from the 2022 edition of the grand slam due to the players’ 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.
“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 with great regret and reluctance that we see no option but to remove ATP Ranking points from Wimbledon for 2022,” the statement highlights.
Adding: “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 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.”
On a further note, the ATP confirms that ranking points will remain at ATP Tour events at Queen’s (ATP 500), Eastbourne (ATP 250), and ATP Challenger events in the UK, understanding that “alternative playing opportunities are open to Russian, and Belarusian players in those weeks.”
Also, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), which previously canceled all events in Russia, supported the Tours decision, revoking ranking points for Wimbledon junior & wheelchair events.
Moreover, the women’s governing body (WTA) asserted: “The stance we are taking is about protecting the equal opportunities 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.”
AS IT UNFOLDED
Late in April, the event organizers first announced on behalf of the All England Tennis Club and the Committee of Management of The Championships that it would decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players from the tournament ahead of the 2022 edition, held from June 27th.
The decision, which came following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was supported by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).
Neither the ATP Tour, which governs men’s tennis nor the women’s Tennis Association, WTA, agreed with the decision taken by the AELTC and the LTA.
Last February, the Tours prohibited Russia and Belarus from participating in team competitions such as the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup.