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Men’s Tennis Tour Penalizes Wimbledon Over Ban on Russian Players

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In an unprecedented move, the ATP will strip the Grand Slam tournament of ranking points, effectively making it an exhibition event. Most top players are still expected to participate.
The men’s tennis tour responded to Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players on Friday by stripping the event of ranking points this year, the most significant rebuke to date of efforts by global sports organizations to ostracize individual Russian athletes as punishment for their country’s invasion of Ukraine. It is a move without precedent in tennis, and without the points, Wimbledon, the oldest of the four Grand Slam tournaments, will technically be an exhibition event for the men, bringing no ranking boost to those who excel on its pristine lawns this year. Though Wimbledon, for now, is the only one of the four major tournaments to ban Russians and Belarusians, the power play by the tour could lead to countermeasures, including the possibility of Grand Slam events considering an alternative ranking system or aligning to make more decisions independently of the tours. Organizers of Wimbledon, a grass court tournament and British cultural institution that begins on June 27, announced the ban on Russian and Belarusian players last month in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which was undertaken with the support of Belarus. Other British grass-court tournaments that are staged in June, including the Wimbledon prep events at Eastbourne and at Queen’s Club in London, have announced similar bans. So have sports as diverse as soccer, auto racing, track and field and ice hockey. Russia has been stripped of the hosting rights to events and has seen its teams ejected from major competitions like soccer’s World Cup. But only a few sports, notably figure skating and track and field, have barred individual athletes from Russia and Belarus from competing.
“The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our Tour,” the ATP said in a statement on Friday. “The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the U.K. this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP Ranking system. It is also inconsistent with our Rankings agreement. Absent a change in circumstances, it is with great regret and reluctance that we see no option but to remove ATP Ranking points from Wimbledon for 2022.”
The WTA was expected to make its own announcement about Wimbledon later on Friday about its approach to the event for women’s players.

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