Wimbledon consider reversing blanket ban on Russian and Belarusian players in 2023 amid Ukraine war

Former men’s world no1 Daniil Medvedev was forced to miss Wimbledon this year  (Getty Images)
Former men’s world no1 Daniil Medvedev was forced to miss Wimbledon this year (Getty Images)

Wimbledon are looking at reversing the blanket ban on Russian and Belarusian players at next year’s tournament.

The All England Club made the decision, on the basis of Government advice, to block players from both nations from competing this summer amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

There were fears that players from both nations could use the event as a platform for a pro-Vladimir Putin demonstration.

Wimbledon has proved an outlier in its sanctions towards Russian and Belarusian players and, with no protests by players from either nation at ATP or WTA events, the All England Club is beginning to soften its stance.

A decision is expected to be made by April regarding the eligibility of players like ex-world No1 Daniil Medvedev and former Wimbledon semi-finalist Aryna Sabalenka, both of whom were forced absentees at the tournament this year.

Both Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) have found themselves increasingly isolated from the rest of the tennis world.

On Wednesday, the ATP fined the LTA $1million (£820,000) over its decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing at its five ATP-level events in the lead-up to Wimbledon. That follows a fine of $750,000 (£615,000) imposed by the WTA back in July.

The LTA described itself as “deeply disappointed” by the latest move from the ATP, accusing the governing body of showing “no recognition of the exceptional circumstances created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.

The LTA’s position was echoed by that of the Government. Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “We are clear that sport cannot be used to legitimise this deadly invasion and that athletes representing Russia and Belarusian states should be banned from competing in other countries.

“Despite widespread condemnation, the international tennis tours are determined to be outcasts in this, with investment in the growth of our domestic game hampered as a result.”