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Tennis Championship Wimbledon Announces Shock Ban Of Players From Russia And Belarus

Wimbledon has split the tennis world in a shock announcement that players from Russia and Belarus will be banned from competing at this year’s Grand Slam.

The competition says it is  in a show of support to the people of Ukraine. This decision prompted the ATP and the WTA to declare it is “disappointing” and “unfair” to the athletes.

The All-England Lawn Tennis Club (AETLC) made its announcement by stating “it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of Government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible.”

“In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players,” an AELTC statement said.

The decision means that some of the sports marquee names such as Men’s World Number 2 and Australian Open Runner Up Daniil Medvedev and Women’s world number 4 Aryna Sabalenka, a semi-finalist in last year’s event, will be affected by the decision.

Many of the game's top players have spoken publicly about the ban, with Novak Djokovic calling the decision “crazy”. The 20-time Grand Slam Champion said, “As a child of war, I know what kind of emotional trauma a war leaves. Us in Serbia we know what was happening here in 1999, ordinary people always suffer. That being said, I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is crazy.

The players, the tennis players, the athletes have nothing to do with it (war). When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good.”

Australian Tennis player John Millman also spoke out publicly against the banning, saying on twitter, “I feel like Ukraine would be better served if Wimbledon donated their entire profit in support aid instead of banning the Russian and Belarusian players,”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I feel like Ukraine would be better served if <a href="https://twitter.com/Wimbledon?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Wimbledon</a> donated their entire profit in support aid instead of banning the Russian and Belarusian players.</p>&mdash; John Millman (@johnhmillman) <a href="https://twitter.com/johnhmillman/status/1516818792185221122?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 20, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Which prompted Ukrainian player Marta Kostyuk to reply “Ukraine needs peace and freedom that we are dying for right now. Not money. Anyone who thinks that decision like this one is targeting players personally is pretty selfish. Players are great part of propaganda and big example to their fans. Silence is a betrayal.”

While the story is still evolving some have even suggested that the ban goes against the All-England club's own rules, with the ATP stating that this is discrimination against nationality.

“We believe that today’s unilateral decision by Wimbledon and the LTA to exclude players from Russia and Belarus from this year’s British grass-court swing is unfair and has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game,” an ATP statement said.

“Discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of our agreement with Wimbledon that states that player entry is based solely on ATP Rankings.

“Our sport is proud to operate on the fundamental principles of merit and fairness, where players compete as individuals to earn their place in tournaments based on the ATP Rankings.”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">By banning Russian and Belarus players, the <a href="https://twitter.com/the_LTA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@the_LTA</a> has broken its own rules <a href="https://t.co/v8gVHtOQDd">pic.twitter.com/v8gVHtOQDd</a></p>&mdash; Craig Gabriel (@crosscourt1) <a href="https://twitter.com/crosscourt1/status/1516885342468509696?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 20, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Whether this ban carries across to the French and US Open tournaments has yet to be seen.