The ATP and WTA have decided to penalize Wimbledon for banning Russian and Belarusian players from the tournament this year by deducting ranking points from the event. The decision is the most major split among tennis governing bodies in recent history. This effectively turns Wimbledon into an exhibition event in the tennis ecosystem, with players unable to collect ranking points as they do at all other recognised tournaments this year. Those who did well in last year’s edition will be unable to defend their points, perhaps causing major changes in the rankings.
“The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our Tour,” said the ATP in a statement. “The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK 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.”
In their statements, both the ATP and WTA stressed that by banning Russian and Belarusian players, Wimbledon have breached their rankings agreements: “The recent decisions made by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to ban athletes from competing in the upcoming UK grass-court events violate that fundamental principle, which is clearly embodied in the WTA rules, the Grand Slam rules, and the agreement the WTA has with the Grand Slams,” said the WTA.
The Wimbledon stages a strong reply
After the move was announced on Friday, Wimbledon’s chiefs expressed their ‘deep disappointment’ but added they stood by the decision. A Wimbledon statement read: “We appreciate that opinions differ in relation to our decision to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to the championships this year, and we deeply regret the impact of this decision on the individuals affected.”
“However, given the position taken by the UK Government to limit Russia’s global influence, which removed automatic entry by ranking, and the widespread response of Government, industry, sport and creative institutions, we remain of the view that we have made the only viable decision for Wimbledon as a globally renowned sporting event and British institution, and we stand by the decision we have made,” it went on.
“We, therefore, wish to state our deep disappointment at the decisions taken by the ATP, WTA and ITF in removing ranking points for the championships. We believe these decisions to be disproportionate in the context of the exceptional and extreme circumstances of this situation and the position we found ourselves in and damaging to all players who compete on tour. We are considering our options, and we are reserving our position at this stage. We are also in discussion with our Grand Slam colleagues,” it concluded.
The move implies that big-name tennis players would lose their points starting in 2021, depriving players like world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of the chance to defend the 2000 points he won at SW19 a year ago. Following Wimbledon’s decision, some big names will be absent from this year’s historic Grand Slam, including Russian Daniil Medvedev on the men’s side and female Belarusian standout Aryna Sabalenka.