ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Battleground of Nationalism versus Professionalism?

Why did Wimbledon ban Russian and Belarusian players, while other Grand Slams like the French Open and the US Open have not?

Earlier this year, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) declined entries from Russian and Belarusian players to the 2022 Wimbledon Championships citing Russias invasion of Ukraine. The organisers stated that it was their responsibility in the widespread efforts of the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) and other institutions to limit Russias global influence and deprive Russian and Belarusian players of any benefits. It should be known here that it was previously decided by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), Womens Tennis Association (WTA), International Tennis Federation (ITF), and the organisers of other Grand Slam events, including AELTC that the players from Russia and Belarus would be allowed to compete in individual tennis events, even in the Grand Slams, but not under the name or flag of their country until further notice.

When Wimbledons ban was announced, many leading players, including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, expressed their displeasure. The decision didnt go down well with the two leading tennis bodies either. In response, the ATP and WTA decided not to award ranking points to this years Wimbledon championships so that the ban doesnt affect players disproportionally. Otherwise, competing players would have had the opportunity to score points at the Wimbledon, while the banned players would have lost the same opportunity. The ATP and WTA also said that they value the merit and rankings of the players in deciding their entries to their tennis events and dont believe that any player should be discriminated against because of their identity or decisions made by the government of their countries. This is not the first time that professional tennis bodies are at loggerheads over a ban on players. Incidentally, it was Wimbledons ban on a Yugoslavian player Nikola (Niki) Pilic in 1973 that catapulted the rise of ATP and the professional rights of tennis players.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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