Novak Djokovic Will Defend His Title at Wimbledon Despite Criticism of Ban on Russian Players

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Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic

Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Novak Djokovic will defend his title at Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic will compete at this year's Wimbledon tournament despite his ongoing criticism of the Grand Slam's decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from play. His participation also follows an announcement that athletes will not be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate.

According to the Associated Press, Djokovic, 35, confirmed his Wimbledon participation to reporters after his French Open win on Monday while calling the ban of the athletes, due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, "a mistake."

In a statement announcing the decision to ban athletes, Wimbledon officials said "it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships. It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022."

The 2021 Wimbledon champion slammed the event's organizers for their failure to "just communicate and understand whether there is a common ground." Added Djokovic, "Both sides could be making a compromise and something could work out."

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"So I think it was the wrong decision. I don't support that at all," Djokovic said.

Earlier this month, the WTA and ATP confirmed that they will not reward ranking points for this year's Grand Slam in response to the ban — a decision that has received mixed reviews from athletes, including Naomi Osaka.

The change in points, however, isn't a problem for Djokovic, who said, according to the Associated Press, that he doesn't see the tournament "through the lens of points or of prize money."

"For me, it's something else," Djokovic said.

RELATED: Novak Djokovic Eligible to Compete at Wimbledon as Covid-19 Vaccination Won't Be Required

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Djokovic said that his decision to compete comes from his childhood goals. "Wimbledon, for me, was always my dream tournament as a child," he explained.

"A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam," said Djokovic.

Until April, Djokovic's eligibility to compete in the tournament had been in question because of his decision to remain unvaccinated against Covid-19. The All England Lawn Tennis Club lifted the mandate in April, clearing Djokovic for competition.

The Serbian tennis star had previously announced that he would withdraw from any tennis tournaments where the COVID vaccine is required before pulling out from two U.S. tournaments — the 2022 BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open.

Wimbledon is scheduled to kick off on June 27 and end on July 10.

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