Wimbledon have insisted the ban on Russian and Belarusian players is not “discrimination” before facing potential sanctions from the ATP and WTA. Russian world No.8 Andrey Rublev and the two tennis tours have accused the All England Club and the LTA of “discrimination” after the bans were announced following the invasion of Ukraine.
The ATP and WTA will meet in Madrid this week to discuss retaliatory action with the reduction of rankings points along with a fine for the LTA on the table. And Russian and Belarusian players are discussing legal action against the UK bodies – the only tournaments to so far ban stars instead of insisting they play under a neutral flag.
But at the annual spring conference in SW19 today, chairman Ian Hewitt defended the ban in the “extreme and exceptional situation” where “Russia’s ongoing invasion” has caused “catastrophic harm to millions or lives”.
And he insisted: “It is not discrimination in the form that is being said. It is a considered view reached as to what is the right and responsible decision in all the circumstances.
“We can well understand that opinions differ and we’re communicating regularly with the WTA and the ATP and we will try and get our reasons across. We think they understand what a challenging position we’re in. And this is an ongoing communication.
“We have stated our reasons as to why we think this is the most responsible decision in the circumstances. We recognise there are a whole range of factors. We have obviously taken advice, we consult and we believe this is the right decision for Wimbledon in the circumstances.