WTA chief promises a ‘strong reaction’ after Wimbledon ban
WTA CEO Steve Simon has branded the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from UK tournaments, including Wimbledon, as “extremely disappointing”, saying that they will take action.
On Wednesday, The All England Club (AELTC) and Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) announced that due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, players from the two European countries will not be allowed to compete at grass-court events in the United Kingdom. This includes the WTA events such as the Cinch Championships, Rothesay Classic in Birmingham and the Rothesay Open in Nottingham as well as the prestigious Grand Slam Wimbledon.
The announcement was condemned by the ATP, ITF and WTA, with the three organisations allowing Russian and Belarusian players to compete under a neutral flag.
Speaking in an interview reacting to the ban, WTA chief Steve Simon insists that athletes should not be penalized for the atrocities of their governments branding the sanctions as “extremely disappointing.”
“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 – ITF, ATP, WTA, Grand Slams, it doesn’t matter – has always been based up on merit and without discrimination.
“We have never ever denied an athlete from competing in any of our events due to whatever decisions their governments may or may not make, no matter how reprehensible they may have been.
“We took the position earlier in the year that these athletes need to be able to continue to play, they should not be penalised based on the actions of their government.
“We stay strong behind that, I will not back off from that, I feel it is a fundamental principal.”
Simon continued, saying that the WTA’s boards and councils will meet in the near future to discuss their response, as he expects their will be a ‘strong reaction’.
“The Wimbledon decision is against the Grand Slam rules as well as the Grand Slam agreement that we have. The LTA, which has WTA sanctioned events, the decision is in violation of the WTA bylaws and rules with respect to entry of athletes.
“So we do have the ability to react to both of those. We don’t have the same jurisdiction over the Grand Slams as we do our own sanctioned events. We have precedents where these situations may have occurred where fines and tournament sanctions have been imposed.
“So we will be evaluating how we proceed. I do think 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.”
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