Billie Jean King against Wimbledon ban on Russian and Belarusian players

By Sports Desk April 21, 2022

Billie Jean King has spoken out against the ban on Russian and Belarusian players imposed at Wimbledon this year as a result of the war in Ukraine. 

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) announced on Wednesday that players from the two nations would not be eligible for the grand slam, with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) stating it would implement the same rule across all its upcoming tournaments. 

Upon announcing its decision, the AELTC cited a responsibility "to limit Russia's global influence through the strongest means possible". 

The blanket ban rules the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka out of contention, and that is something King is against. 

She posted on Twitter: "The decision of the LTA and AELTC regarding Russian and Belarusian players at this year's tournament was a difficult and complex undertaking, and I appreciate the challenges and pressures they are facing. 

"One of the guiding principles of the founding of the WTA was that any girl in the world, if she was good enough, would have a place to compete. 

"I stood by that in 1973 and I stand by that today. I cannot support the banning of individual athletes from any tournament, simply because of their nationality. 

"Tennis is stronger when we stand together, and our continue support of the Tennis Plays for Peace initiative, which provides meaningful financial support and resources to Ukraine, needs to be our focus." 

The ATP and WTA criticised the AELTC's decision, while Martina Navratilova and Novak Djokovic have also voiced their opposition. 

In a statement published on Thursday, the Belarusian Tennis Federation (BTF) said it was seeking legal advice. 

"The Belarusian Tennis Federation categorically condemns the decision taken by the organisers of Wimbledon to suspend Belarusian and Russian tennis players. Such destructive actions in no way contribute to the resolution of conflicts, but only incite hatred and intolerance on a national basis," read the release. 

"Throughout the history of tennis, armed conflicts have occurred in the world – in Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Yugoslavia and other countries – but not until now have tournament organisers suspended athletes from the United States, Great Britain and other countries. 

"Illegal decisions of international tennis organizations in relation to our athletes undermines the reputation of these organisations. 

"Consultations of the BTF leadership with international law firms on sports law are ongoing and a strategy is being developed that is aimed at protecting Belarusian tennis players around the world." 

Related items

  • Wimbledon: Kyrgios and Tsitsipas handed fines after ill-tempered showdown Wimbledon: Kyrgios and Tsitsipas handed fines after ill-tempered showdown

    Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas have been handed fines for their actions during a fiery Wimbledon clash where the former was accused of being a "bully".

    The pair played out an ill-tempered third round encounter on Court One that saw the Australian come from behind to defeat the fourth seed in a 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-3 7-6 (9-7) win.

    The pair traded furious remarks afterwards, with the Greek accusing his rival of having an "evil side", while Kyrgios called his opponent "soft" and suggested he is disliked by his fellow players.

    Now, the duo have been handed financial penalties, with Kyrgios charged $4,000 (£3,300) for an audible obscenity and Tsitsipas slapped with a $10,000 (£8,250) fine for unsportsmanlike conduct.

    It is the second fine of the tournament for Kyrgios, who was sanctioned for an incident in his opening clash with Britain's Paul Jubb.

    The Australian - who experienced grand-slam glory on home soil in the men's doubles earlier this year - will now face Brandon Nakashima in a last-16 tie.

  • Wimbledon: 'Phew! I am lucky!' – Djokovic relieved to get job done just before curfew Wimbledon: 'Phew! I am lucky!' – Djokovic relieved to get job done just before curfew

    Novak Djokovic beat Tim van Rijthoven on Sunday to take his place in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, and was very relieved to get the job done ahead of the 23:00BST curfew.

    World number one Djokovic saw off the Wimbledon debutant 6-2 4-6 6-1 6-2 on Centre Court to set up an intriguing last-eight clash with Jannik Sinner.

    The contest did not go all the defending champion's way, however, as Van Rijthoven's display in the second set suggested Djokovic would have to dig deep.

    But the Serb's response was emphatic as he went on drop just three games in the following two sets, blowing the 25-year-old Dutchman away impressively to reach a 13th Wimbledon quarter-final.

    It was also Djokovic's 25th successive win at Wimbledon, a sequence that has only ever been bettered three times in SW19.

    For a while there seemed to be a real threat of Van Rijthoven taking the match into a second day, with the curfew looming.

    Djokovic suggested he was not entirely aware of the deadline, and that only increased his relief after clinching victory with 22 minutes to spare.

    Speaking on court afterwards, Djokovic said: "I don't know if there was a curfew, 11pm? Is that still on? Okay, phew!

    "I am lucky, I am lucky. It's only 20 minutes, too, so I'm lucky. I have had some previous experience of playing a match over two days under the roof against [Rafael] Nadal some years ago, and it's never really pleasant if you can't finish the match the same day.

    "I am glad I did and now I am just looking forward to the next challenge."

    Specifically on Van Rijthoven, Djokovic added: "He was very tough, he's kind of a new face on the tour and actually won his first ATP match in the tournament he won a few weeks ago in his country, beating players in top five, top 10 in the world.

    "He was on a streak on this surface, so I knew it wasn't going to be easy with that serve and a lot of talent, great touch and a powerful forehand. He can do a lot of damage.

    "It took me a little bit of time to get used to his pace, and the conditions under the roof are a little bit different, a bit slippery, so it takes a bit of adjusting, but overall I closed out the match well."

  • Wimbledon: Djokovic survives 'very tough' battle with Van Rijthoven to set up Sinner showdown Wimbledon: Djokovic survives 'very tough' battle with Van Rijthoven to set up Sinner showdown

    Novak Djokovic stared danger in the face and scared it off in inimitable fashion as Wimbledon's defending champion scored a late-night win over Tim van Rijthoven.

    Chasing a fourth successive title at the All England Club, Djokovic shrugged off the jolt of dropping the second set to scorch through the next two and secure a 6-2 4-6 6-1 6-2 victory in the fourth-round contest.

    Having been part of an early-afternoon parade of champions, marking Centre Court's centenary, six-time Wimbledon king Djokovic returned to the arena and served a reminder of why he has become so difficult to beat. This was his 25th consecutive match win in the men's singles at Wimbledon, and only Bjorn Borg (41), Roger Federer (40) and Pete Sampras (31) have had more in a row.

    Van Rijthoven's fairy-tale rise to prominence during this grass-court season has included wins over world number one Daniil Medvedev and Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Rosmalen Grass Court Championships. The victory over Medvedev came in the final, with Van Rijthoven's ranking jumping from 205th to 106th on the ATP list, Wimbledon swiftly proffering a wildcard.

    Seeds Reilly Opelka and Nikoloz Basilashvili both fell to Van Rijthoven in Wimbledon's early rounds, and when he sealed the second set against Djokovic with back-to-back aces, it fuelled the Dutchman's belief that he might add an even greater scalp.

    A dazzling backhand from Djokovic set up break point in game two of the third set, and with a curfew of 23:00BST, the Serbian knew he needed to hurry up. Van Rijthoven speared a forehand long and the break was established, at 21:43BST.

    Djokovic surged 5-0 ahead; and although Van Rijthoven spared himself a 'bagel', the damage had been done. Soon the top seed was a set away from the finish line, all across his opponent's game, and Van Rijthoven knew the jig was up. That finish line was crossed at 22:38BST. Djokovic said it had been a "very tough" battle, but he survives and faces Jannik Sinner next.

    Data slam: Poles apart, and eventually it showed

    Where Van Rijthoven has one ATP-level title, Djokovic has 87. The 35-year-old Serbian remains the firm favourite to be holding the trophy on Centre Court next Sunday, that second set notwithstanding. Djokovic's resilient effort against a man in form means there has still never been an incidence of the men's singles top seed losing to a wildcard at a grand slam in the Open Era (since 1968).

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Djokovic – 28/19
    Van Rijthoven – 41/53

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Djokovic – 7/2
    Van Rijthoven – 20/5

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Djokovic – 6/17
    Van Rijthoven – 1/4

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.