Wimbledon in trouble? The discrimination accusation of a Russian star and the suggestive phrase of Novak Djokovic

The All England statement was lapidary. Confirming the rumors that had been going around in recent weeks about the eventual veto the participation of tennis players from Russia and Belarus in the next Wimbledon tournament, the third Grand Slam of the season, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in a war unleashed since February 24. In its final part, the message was: “Given the profile of The Championships in the UK and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts by government, industry, sports and creative institutions to limit Russia’s global influence through the media. strongest possible. In the circumstances of such unprecedented and unwarranted military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefit from the participation of Russian or Belarusian players in The Championships. Therefore, it is our intention, with deep regret, to refuse Russian and Belarusian player entries to The Championships 2022.”

Daniil Medvedev, No. 2 in the world, is the most affected by the Wimbledon measure

The reactions were swift. From the Kremlin, passing through the ATP, the WTA and the voices of the protagonists, each with their own tessitura. While the Wimbledon statement continues to circulate around the world, it was to be expected that some legal counterattack would arise from the affected parties. In fact, this Wednesday there were already leaks of those movements and Wimbledon was “warned” that he could face legal action for his drastic decision. Who are at the forefront of the legal exit? The first to move the chips was the Belarusian Tennis Federation. He accuses the All England Club of “acting illegally by banning the participation of Russian and Belarusian players in this season’s tournament.”

In another communication through the media, the Belarusian Tennis Federation made it clear that it was consulting different international law firms to “protect” its stars. She specifically referred to the two-time winner of Grand Slam titles, Victoria Azarenko, already number 4 in the world, Aryna Sabalenka. He also condemned Wimbledon for “incitement to hatred”.

“The Belarusian Tennis Federation categorically condemns the decision made by the Wimbledon organizers to suspend Belarusian and Russian tennis players. Such destructive actions do not contribute at all to the resolution of conflicts, but only incite hatred and intolerance on a national basis”.

“Throughout the history of tennis there have been armed conflicts around the world – in Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Yugoslavia and other countries – but never before have tournament organizers suspended athletes from the United States, Great Britain and other countries”.

“The illegal decisions of international tennis organizations in relation to our athletes undermine the reputation of these organizations,” the Belarusian Federation continues with its message.

Victoria Azarena, double Grand Slam champion, one of the Belarusians defended by her Tennis Federation
Victoria Azarena, double Grand Slam champion, one of the Belarusians defended by her Tennis FederationFREDERIC J. BROWN – AFP

The Wimbledon determination alters the composition of the tournament’s main draws. In addition to directly affecting a player like Daniel Medvedevnumber 2 in the world, involves about 20 more tennis players, between Russians and Belarusians, located among the top 100 of the world rankings of the ATP Tour and the WTA Tour, who are the ones who usually enter the main draws directly . The objective of the Belarusian Federation is to legally challenge the decision of All England.

Besides Medvedev, another prominent Russian racket affected by the decision is Alexander Rublev, 24 years old and 8 in the world. “I am under pressure, there is no right answer. Anything you say will be wrong. What I say comes from the heart. First of all, I am apolitical, I don’t read the world news, I just work hard to play tennis. Yesterday we had a conversation with Wimbledon and several players to try to find a solution. To be honest, the reasons they gave make no sense or logic. What is happening now is totally discriminatory against us, this is not democracy and a free world. They should give us the opportunity to choose.”

Russian Andrey Rublev said the move is illogical
Russian Andrey Rublev said the move is illogical

In addition, he assured that the tournament authorities could consider other options: “They could have given the tournament prizes to humanitarian aid, to the families who are suffering, to the children who are suffering, that is something that would have a little impact. In this case, tennis would be the only sport to give away such an amount, and it would be thanks to Wimbledon, who would get all the glory. I am Russian, I was born in Russia, I lived there all my life, I just want to show that we are good people. They can’t put us in the same basket.”

Other voices that questioned the decision were from Martina Navratilova Y Novak Djokovic. Navratilova, who won 9 times at the All England between 1978 and 1990, called the decision “wrong”, adding: “An exclusion like this, through no fault of these players, is not the way to go. Tennis is such a democratic sport that it’s difficult when you see politics destroy it.”

Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka is another victim of the Wimbledon decision
Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka is another victim of the Wimbledon decision

Djokovic, meanwhile, who has already been controversial since the beginning of the year for his decision not to get vaccinated against Covid, which meant being expelled from Australia and not playing several tournaments, said that although he understood the emotional trauma caused by a war From his personal experience with Serbian history, he was against the decision. “I think it’s crazy. When politics interferes in sport, the result is not good”.

Former Ukrainian tennis player Alexandr Dolgopolov criticized Vladimir Putin
Former Ukrainian tennis player Alexandr Dolgopolov criticized Vladimir Putin@alexdolgopolov

Likewise, the Wimbledon measure was well received by former Ukrainian star Alex Dolgopolov. “This will make the Russian leadership understand that they are acting illegally. Wimbledon is not going to stop the war, it is just an additional signal that the world condemns Putin,” Dolgopolov told The Independent newspaper. He added: “The more signs of this kind, whether it’s tennis or whether it’s FIFA blocking them from football, it shows people that Russia is doing something wrong.” Already at the time Dolgopolov had been energetic on the subject of war.

Elina Svitolina, Marta Kostyuk and Sergiy Stakhovsky, tennis figures from Ukraine, have asked their Russian and Belarusian colleagues to denounce their government if they want to compete internationally. “We have noticed that some Russian and Belarusian players have vaguely mentioned the war at some point, but they have never clearly stated that Russia and Belarus started it on the territory of Ukraine”, they said on social networks. “The very silence of those who choose to continue like this is unbearable, as it leads to the continuation of the murders in our homeland.”

The WTA, the entity that conducts women’s tennis, will also take action against Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), according to a report provided by the French newspaper L’Equipe.

In an email, sent to the players by the head of the WTA, Steve Simon, the body “studies the possibility of imposing sanctions on Wimbledon and the LTA after his decision to ban Russians and Belarusians from playing tournaments on British soil in June and July.”

Ever since the Peng Shuai case, Steve Simon, the head of the WTA, had been known to be capable of taking forceful action to defend the interests of women’s tennis. In the letter sent to the players, Simon recalls that “while the WTA strongly condemns the actions carried out by Russia in Ukraine, we remain attached to the essential principle of our sport in which tournament entries are based on merit and without discrimination. No athlete has ever been prevented from playing in a tournament because of the actions of their government.”

For this reason, those responsible for the WTA are studying the sanctions that could be imposed on Wimbledon and the LTA, the English tennis federation, after its decision to prohibit the participation of Russian and Belarusian players in the tournaments played on British soil in June and July , including Wimbledon, from June 27 to July 10.

“These decisions are a violation of the Grand Slam and WTA rules,” said Steve Simon. “We have formally notified them of our position, reserving the right to impose appropriate sanctionswhich may include (amongst other things) removal of Wimbledon ranking points, fines, and suspension of WTA and LTA membership.”

Simon added that the WTA is also looking into “what actions the 13 top 100 players affected by the Wimbledon ban could take under Grand Slam rules.” There is talk of discrimination, arguing that their compatriots who do not play tennis are not prohibited from working in England.