ATP and WTA Tour strip Wimbledon of ranking points over decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

The ATP Tour and WTA Tour will not award ranking points for Wimbledon this year in response to the All England Club’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from the championships.

Last month, Wimbledon confirmed the decision to bar players from those countries from competing, stating that it was not “viable to proceed on any other basis at The Championships” in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There had been talk of players being able to compete should they provide a declaration stating their anti-war sentiment, though it was decided not to implement that.

The move to ban Russians and Belarusians was met with criticism from many of the sport’s biggest names, including Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. When asked about the situation, Murray said he felt “really bad” for the players who would miss out on Wimbledon, and that he did not support individuals being banned.

Among those affected are world number two Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, currently ranked seven in the world, Aryna Sabalenka, a Wimbledon semi-finalist last year, and former world number one Victoria Azarenka.

Both the ATP and WTA have now responded by stripping Wimbledon of ranking points, with the the ITF following suit for the junior and wheelchair events.

“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.”

The statement continued: “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. Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable on a Tour that operates in more than 30 countries.

“We greatly value our long-standing relationships with Wimbledon and the LTA and do not underestimate the difficult decisions faced in responding to recent UK Government guidance.

“However, we note that this was informal guidance, not a mandate, which offered an alternative option that would have left the decision in the hands of individual players competing as neutral athletes through a signed declaration.

“Our internal discussions with affected players in fact led us to conclude this would have been a more agreeable option for the Tour.

“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.”

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

In a similar statement, the WTA confirmed they too would be stripping the tournament of ranking points, while also stating that other British grasscourt events, in Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne, will be penalised but ranking points will remain in place.

Both stated a desire to reach a compromise with Wimbledon, with just over a month to go until the action gets underway in SW19.

The WTA said: “We believe that individual athletes participating in an individual sport shouldn’t be penalised or prevented from competing solely because of their nationalities or the decisions made by the governments of their countries.

“As a result of the AELTC’s position, the WTA has made the difficult decision to not award WTA ranking points for this year’s Wimbledon Championships.

“The stance we are taking is about protecting the equal opportunities that 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.

“The WTA will continue to apply its rules to reject such discrimination.”

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