Wimbledon could turn into a prestigious gala tournament this summer, with no stake for the world rankings: the ATP and the WTA, which manage the men’s and women’s circuits, decided on Friday May 20 not to distribute any Grand Slam points. on grass 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 the ATP points at Wimbledon for the 2022 edition”, the body announced in a press release. A position imitated a few minutes later by the WTA. For the ATP, if Wimbledon excludes players of Russian and Belarusian nationalities, this is the principle considered as ” fundamental “ fairness between all players to participate in all tournaments “on their merit and without discrimination” which is questioned.
The British Grand Slam tournament announced on April 20 its intention to exclude Russians and Belarusians from the 2022 edition because “under the circumstances of unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefit from the participation of Russian or Belarusian players”. The prestigious grass-court tournament, however, clarified that this decision could be reviewed if the “circumstances change radically by June”.
A “disproportionate” sanction
Friday evening, the organizers of the tournament, scheduled this year between June 27 and July 10, reaffirmed in a press release that they stood by their position and denounced the decisions. “disproportionate” and “damaging for all the players present on the circuit” taken by world tennis authorities:
“We deeply regret the consequences of this decision on those affected. However, given the position taken by the British government to limit the external influence of Russia (…), we continue to believe that we have made the only viable decision for Wimbledon as a renowned British sporting event and institution, and we stand by that decision. »
The ATP, which accepts Russian and Belarusian players under a neutral banner, repeated on Friday that the position of the Wimbledon tournament “challenged” the principle of equity between players as well as “the integrity of the filing 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.”insists the ATP.
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”.
ATP stress Wimbledon followed ” recommendations “ of the British government which were not binding and that these “informal recommendations offered an alternative that would have allowed players to participate individually under a neutral banner after signing a declaration” against the invasion in Ukraine, which would have been “an option more acceptable to the ATP”.
The International Federation (ITF) has also announced that Wimbledon will withdraw points for the junior and wheelchair tennis tournaments scheduled during the fortnight of the tournament. “The ITF position remains that Russian and Belarusian players should be allowed to participate as neutral athletes”explains the Federation, which has also banned since 1er March Russia and Belarus to participate in any national team competition.