The most prestigious tennis tournament in the world is on a collision course with the sport’s global governing bodies on Friday after Wimbledon snatched its rankings from the ATP and WTA tours, excluding players from Russia and Belarus.
The order of men’s and women’s trips reduces Wimbledon to a show event, but AELTC, the organizer of the Grand Slam, reiterated that the ban was the only viable option under the guidance of the British government.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has said that Wimbledon will not be awarded ranking points for junior and wheelchair tennis events this year.
The AELTC’s decision to suspend Russian and Belarusian players at this year’s championships in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine is the first time players have been excluded on national grounds, which banned German and Japanese players after the post-World War II era. .
On Friday, AELTC said they were considering their options and were having discussions with their Grand Slam colleagues.
“Moreover, we are not prepared to accept success or participation at Wimbledon as a benefit to the Russian administration’s propaganda machine,” the AELTC said in a statement.
“So we want to express our deep disappointment at the decisions made by the ATP, WTA and ITF to remove the rankings for the playoffs.
“We believe these decisions are inconsistent with the exceptional and extreme circumstances of this situation and the position we have found, and will harm all players competing on the tour.”
Integrity of ranking
After the invasion, the ATP and WTA banned Russia and Belarus from international team competitions, which Moscow calls ‘special operations’, but allowed players from the two countries to compete neutral.
“The ability of players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit and without discrimination is fundamental to our trip,” the ATP said in a statement.
“Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP ranking system, which is inconsistent with our ratings agreement.
“Regrettably and reluctantly, we have no choice but to remove the ATP rankings from Wimbledon by 2022, without changing circumstances.”
WTA chief Steve Simon said the tour believes that athletes participating in individual sport “should not be fined or competed simply because of decisions made by their nationalities or the governments of their countries.”
“The recent decisions of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) prohibit athletes from competing in upcoming UK grass court events, violating the basic principle,” Simon said.
“WTA does not respect its obligation to use WTA rankings for admission to Wimbledon, and as a result of AELTC’s stance to continue with the field rather than on merit, the WTA has made a tough decision not to give WTA rankings.
Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian competitors has been criticized by top players such as 21-time Grand Slam champion Rafa Nadal, who labeled it unfair, but said the world’s number one player, Novak Djokovic, does not support the decision.
“Our rules and agreements exist to protect the rights of players as a whole. These unilateral decisions, if not addressed, set a harmful precedent for the rest of the tour,” the ATP added.
“Discrimination from individual tournaments on a tour that operates in more than 30 countries is simply not viable.
“We have hopes that more discussions with Wimbledon will result in an acceptable outcome for all concerned.
“More broadly, we believe this issue will once again highlight the need for a unified governance structure across professional tennis so that decisions like these can be made jointly.”
Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) also reimbursed the Wimbledon ban by excluding players from both countries from their tune-up tour events.
However, the WTA says that its tournaments in Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne will continue to rank with offers on the “alternative and comparable playing and scoring point opportunities in the same weeks”.
ATP said earlier this week that its events in Queens and Eastbourne will continue as usual, giving full ATP ratings.
While LTA tournaments continue to offer full ranking points, the British governing body is reviewing sanctions from the ATP and WTA.
ITF defended its decision not to rank Wimbledon this year for junior and wheelchair tennis events, saying it would undermine the integrity of the competition.
“The ITF has decided that Wimbledon’s entry ban banning Russians and Belarusians compromises the integrity of its international competition, in particular its ranking system, because there is a lack of alternative equal opportunities for players to compete for ranking points and prize money,” ITF said.