Wimbledon Championships 2021

Novak Djokovic’s ex-coach slams Russian Wimbledon ban threat as ‘an exaggeration’

Novak Djokovic’s former coach Nikola Pilic has criticized suggestions of a ban on Russian players at Wimbledon amid the war in Ukraine, branding the potential sanctions on Russian players as an “exaggeration”. 

The ban would mean that the likes of the world number two Daniil Medvedev and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka would not be able to compete in the world’s oldest tennis tournament, unless they were able to provide assurances that they were not supporters of Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Both the All England Club club and the country’s Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston have threatened a ban for Russian and Belarusian players from Wimbledon this summer after the invasion of Ukraine. With the entry list deadline in May fast approaching, the tournament must decide soon whether to allow players from the two nations to compete in the tournament or decide if they should be barred from competing this year.

Several different players and pundits have weighed in on the debate, including former world number 13 Alexandr Dolgopolov claiming “it is the right thing to do”, whereas Grand Slam legend Todd Woodbridge urged caution and said implementing a ban would be “slippery and dangerous ground.”

Now tennis coach Nikola Pilic has given his thoughts ahead of the final decision, believing the ban should not be put in place and that the move was not necessary.

“It’s just a shame,” he said. “Did they do something similar when the Americans entered Iraq and killed over a million civilians there?. Did they ban their tennis players from playing? They are exaggerating in any sense.”

The 1973 French Open Champion Pilic also slammed “Russophobia in Britain”, adding: “it’s been like that for the last 150 years.”

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