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The world of tennis supports Russians and Belarusians.  The appeal of the legend: Life is too short

The world of tennis supports Russians and Belarusians. The appeal of the legend: Life is too short

In recent days, more tennis legends have argued against the potential exclusion of Russian and Belarusian tennis players from this year’s edition of Wimbledon. Such a situation occurred last season, and it was the reaction of the tournament authorities in London to the Russian attack on Ukraine. In response, the WTA and ATP punished the English men – and in fact tennis players – by not awarding them points for their London performances.

Billie Jean King supports the Russians

– Life is too short. Let them play and get financial rewards and ranking points. Elena Rybakina was seeded 25th at the Australian Open, although she won Wimbledon. There are platforms to discuss this, but the WTA was created to protect players, says women’s tennis legend Billie Jean King in The Mirror.

The American won 39 Grand Slam tournaments in singles, doubles and mixed doubles in her career. For years, she fought for the rights of tennis players, led to the creation of the Women’s Tennis Organization. The international women’s tennis tournament (previously the Federation Cup) was named after her. Today, she is on the side of the Russians and Belarusians.

– I hope that politics will not disturb Aryna Sabalence. Players should not be penalized for something they have no control over and have little to do with, said John McEnroe. The legendary tennis player is also against the exclusion of Russians and Belarusians from the next edition of Wimbledon.

A few days ago, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka won the Australian Open. Her compatriot Victoria Azarenka was also in the semi-finals. The semi-finalist of the men’s edition of the tournament in Melbourne was the Russian Karen Khachanov.

Sabalenka disappointed

“I’m disappointed that sport is somehow present in politics. They kicked us out of Wimbledon and what changed? Nothing – complained before the Australian Open Sabalenka. The tennis player criticized the Russians for the war, but as the Ukrainian media showed, she spent part of the preparation period for the 2023 season in Russia.

The tennis community is largely against the exclusion of Russians and Belarusians from competition. These are the words of the experts asked by Sport.pl for their opinion.

– I think the ban at Wimbledon will be lifted. Boris Johnson no longer rules the UK. The tennis community realizes that the ban has done more harm than good. Nobody won on it – says Sport.pl Jon Wertheim, editor and journalist of “Sports Illustrated”.

Marco Mazzoni from the Italian portal Livetennis.it goes even further. – We recently learned that Russian and Belarusian athletes can participate in the Games in Paris under a neutral flag. Everything is therefore moving towards the complete opening of Wimbledon also for Russians and Belarusians. I think that’s the right solution. In 2022, there was a big mess because of this, Mazzoni argues.

No more ban?

– It seems unlikely that Russian and Belarusian tennis players will be banned again, but who knows? I hope this war is over by Wimbledon. I don’t think it will, but I hope so, says tennis journalist Roee Preis of Israel’s ynet.co.il.

Some of our interlocutors believe in an agreement between the WTA/ATP and Wimbledon regarding the awarding of points to the players. – I am very pessimistic. In my opinion, the 2023 edition will be the same as the 2022, although I hope that the players will be able to receive points for their performances and everyone will be allowed to compete – says Sport.pl Mario Boccardi from the Italian portal Sportface.it.

British tennis journalists feel the same way. “I hope an agreement can be reached because the best sporting events are those where all the top athletes participate and get points for it,” said George Bellshaw of the Tennis Unfiltered podcast.

Tony Fairbairn of Ubitennis.net adds: “It all depends on the British government’s position on the impact of sport on wartime propaganda. I don’t think that opinion is as strong as last year. It is more likely that Sabalenka and other Belarusian and Russian tennis players will be able to play in London this year.

According to London’s Daily Telegraph, a repeat of the Wimbledon ban for Russian and Belarusian players is unlikely. The All England Club which is organizing the tournament will consider allowing tennis players from these countries to compete. According to British media, although no official edition has yet been taken, there is “little interest” in reintroducing the ban.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, many sports federations decided to suspend or exclude Russian players or Russian teams. Such a situation occurred, for example, in figure skating, rowing, canoeing, volleyball, football and judo.

Tennis broke

Tennis has not gone that way. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) was initially silent, and then decided only to exclude Russian national teams from the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup. Tennis players from both countries can compete individually in all tournaments, and the only “punishment” is the need to play as neutral players. Wimbledon was the only tennis tournament that decided to exclude Russians and Belarusians.

During this year’s Australian Open, event director Craig Tiley urged tennis players to show more support for Ukraine, while admitting that he did not support a ban on Russians and Belarusians. The organizers of the competition in Melbourne forbade bringing Russian and Belarusian national symbols to the stands, but the Russian fans did not care about the ban.

During the quarter-final of Novak Djokovic with Andrei Rublev, flags with the likeness of Vladimir Putin and fans in T-shirts with the symbol “Z” were seen in the stands. After the match, Djokovic’s father took a picture with Russian fans who greeted the “Night Wolves” – a motorcycle organization that supports the Kremlin.

Source: Sport.PL

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