Veronika Kudermetova - Roland Garros 2022

WTA players to go ‘without penalty’ for competing in Russian exhibition event

The WTA have released a statement after an exhibition event in Russia was announced to be taking place featuring the likes of Karen Khachanov, Veronika Kudermetova, Roberto Bautista Agut and Yulia Putintseva.

With a similar concept to the Laver Cup, the exhibition will feature two teams captained by four-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ukrainian born Nikolay Davydenko.

These teams will be joined by Russian players Karen Khachanov, Veronika Kudermetova, Anastasia Potapova, Alexander Shevchenko and Diana Schnaider.

There also some international entrants including Roberto Bautista Agut, Alexander Bublik, Yulia Putintseva, Jasmine Paolini, Viktoriya Tomova, Dusan Lajovic, Laslo Djere and Adrian Mannarino.

Due to the invasion of Ukraine, ATP/WTA Tour level and ITF tournaments are currently banned from being held in Russia.

And news outlet Reuters revealed that they tried to contact both the ATP and WTA, with only the latter responding by announcing that they did not support the event being held, but could not sanction players for competing.

“This event is not affiliated with the WTA nor is the WTA supportive of the event being held,” said the WTA. “Players compete on the WTA Tour as independent contractors and, at their discretion, have the ability to participate in an exhibition without penalty during the off-season.”

The event is being sponsored by Russian energy company Gazprom, which has had board members sanctioned by international governments due to the war.

And Ukrainian WTA player Lesia Tsurenko highlighted this on social media by saying, “Is it okay to promote sanctioned companies?”

The Trophies of North Palmyra exhibition tournament is set to take place between December 1st-3rd in St.Petersburg, Russia.

Inside the baseline…

Situations like this always put organisations like the ATP and WTA in difficult positions, however it is surprising to see top international players signing up for this event, supposedly for a high participation fee. With Wimbledon making Russian and Belarusian players sign a declaration form earlier this year to denounce the war, it will be interesting to see how/if they react to this news.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.