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‘An unacceptable act of aggression’ – Tennis governing bodies, including ATP and WTA, take action in response to Russian invasion

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The governing bodies of tennis, including the ATP and WTA, put out a joint statement yesterday addressing the Russian invasion of Ukraine and outlining repercussions for both Russia and Belarus. 

The statement includes decisions to suspend the WTA and ATP combined event scheduled for October in Moscow.

They have also suspended the Russian Tennis Federation’s (RTF) and Belarus Tennis Federation’s (BTF) memberships of ITF and withdrawing their participation from ITF international team events, namely the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup.

The Russian Tennis Federation are defending champions in both events.

In addition, players from Russia and Belarus will be permitted to continue competing but not under the flag or name of their nation, a move which affects five ATP top 100 players and 10 WTA top 100 players.

Belarus were pulled into the decision following the nation’s military backing of the Russian invasion.

The statement reads: “A deep sense of distress, shock and sadness has been felt across the entire tennis community following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the past week.

“Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, and we commend the many tennis players who have spoken out and taken action against this unacceptable act of aggression.

“We echo their calls for the violence to end and peace to return.”

The bodies added that their priority thus far has been the safety of the tennis community, focusing on contacting current and former WTA and ATP players and other members of the tennis community in and around Ukraine to confirm their safety and offer assistance.

 

Daniil Medvedev ATP world number one

Newly crowned world number one Daniil Medvedev is pictured on his ATP player profile without any reference to Russia other than his place of birth.

 

Rafael Nadal ATP world number four

Compare Medvedev with Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal, who has the Spanish flag and ESP abbreviation by his ranking, as well as the Spanish flag set as a background to the profile.

 

The statement comes after Ukrainian world number 15 Elina Svitolina declared she would not play against any Russian or Belarusian players should the governing bodies fail to act, as well as an official plea from the Ukrainian Tennis Federation to boot RTF and BTF from the ITF.

Seven-time Slam champion Mats Wilander then backed Svitolina’s call, labelling it a “fair suggestion.”

Svitolina has since played her first match at the Monterrey Open in Mexico, defeating Anastasia Potapova 6-2, 6-1 while the Russian competed not under her nation’s flag or name, reflected in the WTA graphics during broadcasting.

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