WTA chief says ban on Russian, Belarusian players breaks the rules
Women’s Tennis Association CEO says the body is ‘extremely disappointed’ over decision to punish players for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Mumbai — Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chief Steve Simon has warned Wimbledon organisers and Britain’s tennis body of “strong reactions” to their decision to ban players from Russia and Belarus from competing in tournaments.
The All England Club (AELTC), which organises the grass court Major, and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) have said they will not allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete in events in the UK due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The ATP, which runs the men’s tour, and the WTA denounced the move as “discriminatory”, with the two world governing bodies saying they were evaluating sanctions in response.
Simon told The Tennis Podcast that the Wimbledon decision was against Grand Slam rules and the agreement they have with the tournament while the LTA, which has WTA sanctioned events, violated the regulations regarding athlete entry.
“We don’t have the same jurisdiction over the Grand Slams as we do [over] our own sanctioned events. We have precedents ... where these situations may have occurred where fines and tournament sanctions have been imposed,” Simon said.
“We need to sit down with our tournament, our player councils and I suppose our board and see where everything’s at. I do think that you’ll see some strong reactions that will come from us, but what those are and how far they’ll go is still to be determined.”
Tennis governing bodies have banned Russia and Belarus from international team competitions after the invasion, but individual players from the two countries are allowed to compete on their respective tours as neutrals.
Simon said both the ATP and the WTA are in discussions over the issue, but their decisions will be independent.
The AELTC, in its statement announcing the decision, said it had to play its part in the efforts of government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to “limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible”.
“People take the position that sports and politics shouldn’t match and shouldn’t be intertwined, but that’s not the reality,” Simon said. “At times, sport does cross into politics and here is a situation where politics is crossing into sports.
“It is real life. The announcement that came out was extremely disappointing, to say the least.
“The one thing that this sport has always agreed upon — we don’t agree on a lot of things, but the one thing we have always been united on — was that entry into our events ... has always been based up on merit and without discrimination.”
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