Tennis great John McEnroe said Wimbledon was wrong to ban Russian and Belarusian players after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine but wished the sport’s governing bodies had not retaliated by stripping the Grand Slam of ranking points.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which organises the grasscourt major, decided to ban players from the two countries for this year’s championships due to Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, which Moscow calls a ‘special operation.’
Belarus has been a key staging area for the conflict.
The AELTC decision was described as ‘discriminatory’ by the men’s ATP and the women’s WTA and in response they have removed the ranking points for next month’s tournament.
Banning Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s championships was the only viable option under the guidance provided by the British government, the AELTC said last month.
McEnroe, who claimed three of his seven Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon, said there was no winner in the tussle.
“It was a mistake (to ban Russian and Belarusian players). I know that it’s a very horrible, tricky, terrible situation, obviously, in Ukraine,” the 63-year-old said.
“And no one else has made that decision. I think there was something with the government? I don’t know exactly. I wish that wasn’t what they did. And I wish the ATP and the WTA didn’t decide it, say right now no points.
“It’s like a lose-lose right now. Tennis players, we are like a fraternity. We travel the world. And even if we speak different languages, there’s a connection. And in a small way, it’s like a family. And we need to support each other.
“It’s difficult to see like some of our best players not playing because of something they have nothing to do with. So I hope it is resolved. I don’t know. But it’s a bad situation.”
The Wimbledon ban rules out Russia’s men’s world No.2 and US Open champion Daniil Medvedev and seventh-ranked Andrey Rublev from competing at the June 27-July 10 tournament.
Belarusians Aryna Sabalenka, ranked seventh, and former world No.1 and twice major winner Victoria Azarenka will also miss out.
Ranking points determine a player’s ability to enter tennis events and receive seedings, so stripping them from Wimbledon effectively reduces the event to an exhibition tournament.
Players will also be unable to defend the points they earned last year at Wimbledon and will drop down the rankings.
Japan’s four-time major champion Naomi Osaka said last week that she was “not 100% sure” of playing at Wimbledon without the ranking points.
“I see all players going to Wimbledon, but that depends on the individual,” Eurosport tennis pundit McEnroe added.
“The fact that there’s no points, I disagree with that, but I don’t think that’s going to stop people, the players from going to Wimbledon.
“We’ll know in a few weeks, but I would think all the top players that believe they can do well there are going to still play.”
For the first time, public can communicate directly with Sharia specialists, clerks, Mufti, 7 days a week, including weekly official holidays
The Middle East education market is anticipated to reach $175 billion by 2027
It appeared Conte was so fed up with Tottenham's inconsistency that his remarkable rant was an act of self-immolation designed to force his exit
Passengers flying from Dubai to New York can take advantage of onward connections with United to over 80 destinations across the Americas
What the collapse of US banks could mean for the banking & financial sector in the GCC
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan and several other politicians also expressed their condolences on the demise of the Malayalam star