Wimbledon could be transformed this summer into a prestigious gala tournament, with no stake for the world ranking: the ATP and the WTA, which manage the men’s and women’s circuits, decided on Friday May 20 not to distribute any points in the Major on turf if he maintains his decision to exclude Russians and Belarusians because of the war in Ukraine.
“If nothing changes, it is with immense regret and reluctance that we see no other option but to withdraw ATP points at Wimbledon for the 2022 edition,” the body said in a statement. . A position imitated a few minutes later by the WTA. For the ATP, if Wimbledon excludes players of Russian and Belarusian nationalities, it is the principle considered “fundamental” of equity between all players to participate in all tournaments “according to their merit and without discrimination which is called into question.
The British Grand Slam tournament announced on April 20 its intention to exclude Russians and Belarusians from the 2022 edition because “in the circumstances of unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to pull the less benefit from the participation of Russian or Belarusian players”. The grass-court major, however, clarified that this decision could be reviewed if “circumstances change drastically by June”.
A “disproportionate” sanction
On Friday evening, the organizers of the tournament, scheduled this year between June 27 and July 10, reaffirmed in a statement that they stood by their position and denounced the decisions “disproportionate” and “damaging for all players. present on the circuit” taken by the authorities of world tennis. :
“We deeply regret the impact of this decision on those affected. However, given the UK government’s stance of limiting external Russian influence (…), we continue to believe that we have made the only viable decision for Wimbledon as a UK sporting event and institution. renamed, and we stand by that decision. »
The ATP, which accepts Russian and Belarusian players under a neutral banner, reiterated on Friday that the Wimbledon tournament stance “challenges” the principle of fairness between players as well as “the integrity of the ranking system”.
“Our rules and agreements exist to protect the rights of all players. Unilateral decisions of this nature (…) set a damaging precedent for the rest of the circuit. The discrimination put in place by tournaments on their own is simply not sustainable on a circuit that spans more than 30 countries.
A badly accepted “political gesture”
The four Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open, Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and US Open) do not depend directly on the ATP or the WTA. But the Wimbledon decision was very badly received by the vast majority of the tennis world who see it as a political gesture and, like Rafael Nadal, “very unfair”.
The ATP points out that Wimbledon followed “non-binding recommendations” from the UK government and that these “informal recommendations offered an alternative which would have allowed players to participate individually under a neutral banner after signing a declaration”. against the invasion in Ukraine, which would have been “a more acceptable option by the ATP”.
The International Federation (ITF) has also announced that it will withdraw points from Wimbledon for the junior and wheelchair tennis tournaments scheduled during the Major’s fortnight. “The position of the ITF remains that Russian and Belarusian players must be allowed to participate as neutral athletes”, explains the Federation which has also banned since March 1 Russia and Belarus from participating in any competition by national teams.