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Wimbledon bans Russia, Belarus tennis players

Wimbledon Russia

Crowds watch in Centre Court as the Tennis events at the London 2012 Olympics take place at Wimbledon. Serena Williams receives her gold medal during the medal ceremony. At this point the American flag falls down. (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)

Corbis via Getty Images

Wimbledon barred Russia and Belarus tennis players from this summer’s tournament due to the war in Ukraine.

“In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships,” the All England Club said in a statement Wednesday. “It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022.”

Russia and Belarus were already banned from international team tennis competitions including the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup.

Wimbledon is the first major tennis tournament to ban individual Russia and Belarus players. The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the governing body of tennis in Great Britain, also banned players from those nations from upcoming international tournaments in an announcement Wednesday.

The ban means that the No. 2-ranked man, Daniil Medvedev, is out of Wimbledon. As is No. 8 Andrey Rublev.

Also out from women’s singles: No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, No. 15 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia and No. 18 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

“We recognize that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime,” All England Club Ian Hewitt said in a statement. “We have very carefully considered the alternative measures that might be taken within the UK Government guidance but, given the high profile environment of The Championships, the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at The Championships.”

If circumstances change materially between now and June, the tournament “will consider and respond accordingly,” it said.

The ATP, which has allowed Russia and Belarus players to compete in its men’s tournaments under a neutral flag, called Wednesday’s decisions unfair with “the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game.”

“Discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of our agreement with Wimbledon that states that player entry is based solely on ATP Rankings,” it said.

Later, the WTA said it was “very disappointed” in the decisions.

“As the WTA has consistently stated, individual athletes should not be penalized or prevented from competing due to where they are from, or the decisions made by the governments of their countries,” the WTA said in a statement.

The ATP and WTA said they will evaluate possible further steps in response to the Wimbledon and LTA decisions.

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