Wimbledon: How Russia’s war against Ukraine will affect world tennis news

At Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic, Iga Swatek and other top tennis players will receive the usual trophies and bonuses, but this year there is a big change: no one will earn ranking points in the tournament , which is a valuable currency in tennis starting June 27.

The women’s and men’s professional tours announced on Friday that they will not award ranking points to players at Wimbledon’s grass-court Grand Slam due to the All England club’s decision to ban players from Russia and Belarus from participating in the war against Ukraine.

Both the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the Tennis Professionals Association (ATP) say they are responding to what they call “discrimination” against tennis players.

Here’s how this unprecedented move came about and what it means for Wimbledon and the world’s top tennis players:

Why did Wimbledon ban Russians and Belarusians?

The All England Club, which hosts the longest-running Grand Slam tournament, Wimbledon for the first time in 1877, announced in April that players from Russia or Belarus would not be allowed to play in 2022 due to the war in Ukraine. competition.

Chief executive Sally Bolton has defended the club’s move, saying it followed instructions from the UK government, noting that it “has a responsibility to play our part in limiting Wimbledon’s use to justify harm to others” by the Russian regime. .

Do other sports ban Russian athletes?

Yes, including football, the Russian men’s team was kicked out of qualifying for this year’s World Cup. Figure skating and track and field are among other sports that have taken action against Russian and Belarusian athletes.

In tennis, players from these countries are allowed to play – including the French Open, the second Grand Slam of the year, which starts in Paris on Sunday – but they are “neutral” athletes who are nationality has not been determined.

Who can’t play at Wimbledon?

The current standout Russian tennis player is Daniel Medvedev, who won the US Open last September and briefly topped this year’s men’s rankings. ATP No. 7 Andrei Rublev is another top male player.

WTA No. 7, Aryna Sabalenka, who reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon a year ago, and two-time Australian Open champion and former world champion Victoria Azalenka are both from Belarus.

A spectator holds a Russian flag during the men’s singles match between Russia’s Daniel Medvedev and Croatia’s Cilic at Wimbledon 2021 [File photo Alberto Pezzali/AP]

Why cancel ranking points?

The WTA and ATP condemned the invasion of Ukraine but said it was unfair for the All England club to prevent certain players from playing because of the actions of their own government.

“Our rules and protocols exist to protect the rights of the entire player,” the ATP said. “A unilateral decision of this nature, if not resolved, could set a damaging precedent for the rest of the Tour.”

The International Tennis Federation has also cancelled ranking points for Wimbledon junior and wheelchair events.

How do ranking points work? Why are they important?

Official rankings for the WTA and ATP date back to the early 1970s and are currently based on each player’s best performance over the past 52 weeks; the women’s top 16 and the men’s top 19.

Swatek is the 28th woman to top the WTA rankings. Djokovic is one of 27 men to lead the ATP and has spent more time at that position than anyone else.

The women’s and men’s singles champions at Wimbledon and three other Grand Slams have each scored 2,000 points, more than any other event. Rankings are a way for fans, sponsors and others (including the players themselves) to understand where an athlete sits in the sport’s hierarchy, along with other measures such as trophies or prize money.

Technically, any tennis event that does not award ranking points is considered an exhibition.

Has this happened before?

Representatives for the ATP, WTA and ITF said they were unaware of any previous instances of points being withheld.

Will any player skip Wimbledon because they don’t have ranking points?

It’s too early to know, but even without ranking points, Wimbledon still offers plenty of prestige and millions of dollars in prize money.

“If you win, I think you’ll still be happy,” said U.S. 11th seed Jessica Pegula of Roland Garros.

“But I think it’s up to everyone – their feelings and motivations.”

What will happen to the U.S. Open?

It is unclear whether players from Russia or Belarus will be able to play in the U.S. Open, the final major of the year, which starts on Aug. 29 in New York.

“We will continue to monitor the event,” USTA spokesman Chris Widmeier wrote in an email, “and is working with Ukrainian and Russian/Belarusian players, the tour, other Grand Slams and others. Active dialogue with relevant parties.”

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