Wimbledon stripped of ranking points by ATP, WTA over Russia, Belarus ban

The move will effectively reduce the world’s most famous tennis tournament to an exhibition event



A spectator holding a Russian flag watches the men's singles third round match between Russia's Daniil Medvedev and Croatia's Marin Cilic last year. — AP
A spectator holding a Russian flag watches the men's singles third round match between Russia's Daniil Medvedev and Croatia's Marin Cilic last year. — AP

By Reuters/AFP

Published: Sat 21 May 2022, 12:21 AM

Wimbledon had its ranking points stripped by the ATP and WTA Tours on Friday over its decision to exclude players from Russia and Belarus at the 2022 Championships due to Moscow’s conflict with Ukraine.

Tennis’ governing bodies have banned Russia and Belarus from international team competitions following the conflict, which Moscow calls a ‘special operation,’ but allowed players from the two countries to continue competing as neutrals.

The move by the men’s and women’s tours to strip Wimbledon of its ranking points will effectively reduce the world’s most famous tennis tournament to an exhibition event.

“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 believes 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 All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) 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.”

The move by AELTC is the first time players have been banned on grounds of nationality since the immediate post-World War Two era when German and Japanese players were excluded.

The ban has also been slammed by top players such as 21-times Grand Slam champion Rafa 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. Unilateral decisions of this nature, if unaddressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the Tour,” the ATP added.

“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.”

The WTA said its British events at Nottingham, Birmingham, and Eastbourne would go ahead with ranking points on offer as “alternative and comparable playing and ranking point opportunities exist in the same weeks”.

The ATP had also said earlier this week that its events at Queen’s and Eastbourne will proceed as normal, offering full ATP ranking points.

Meanwhile, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said it will not grant ranking points to Wimbledon this year for junior and wheelchair tennis events.

“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,” the ITF said.

AELTC, the organisers of the grasscourt Grand Slam, have said that the ban on Russian and Belarusian players was their only viable option under the guidance provided by the British government.

Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) also reciprocated the Wimbledon ban by excluding players from the two countries from its tune-up tour events.

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

Wimbledon chiefs slam decisions

Wimbledon chiefs hit back at the "disproportionate" decisions.

The tours said they had to act in order to stop players from Russia and Belarus being discriminated against on political grounds.

But the All England Club, which runs Wimbledon, expressed their "deep disappointment" at the moves made by the ATP (men's), WTA (women's) and ITF (junior and wheelchair events).

They said they had taken the "only viable decision" given the position taken by the UK Government to limit Russia's global influence following the invasion and stood by the ban.

"We deeply regret the impact of this decision on the individuals affected," said a statement from the Wimbledon organisers.

"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 and we stand by the decision we have made.

Turning to the removal of ranking points, the statement added: "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."


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