Top Russian, Belarusian players allowed back to Wimbledon

The players were banned last year by the All England Club due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Belarusian tennis player Victoria Azarenka during a singles match at Wimbledon in 2018.
Posted at 11:21 AM, Mar 31, 2023

A year after barring Russian and Belarusian players from entering Wimbledon, the All England Club announced Friday it will allow these players to participate in 2023 as “neutral” athletes. 

The players were banned last year by the All England Club due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“We continue to condemn totally Russia’s illegal invasion and our wholehearted support remains with the people of Ukraine,” said Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club. “This was an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted.”

The WTA and ATP Tours objected to the 2022 decision by stripping the tournament of its ranking points. Both tours have allowed these players to compete under a neutral flag.

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“We are pleased that all players will have an opportunity to compete at Wimbledon and LTA events this summer,” the ATP and WTA Tours said in a joint statement. “It has taken a collaborative effort across the sport to arrive at a workable solution which protects the fairness of the game.”

The decision means two of the top seven players on the men’s tour — Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev — will be allowed to participate. On the women’s tour, No. 2-ranked Aryna Sabalenka and No. 8 Daria Kasatkina will also be allowed to enter. Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, who has been among the most popular players in tennis, will also be allowed this year.

As Russian and Belarusian players have continued to compete on the men’s and women’s tours, it has created some tensions. The Australian Open banned Russian and Belarusian flags from the venue this year. 

Also, Ukrainian WTA Tour member Marta Kostyuk has refused to shake the hand of Russian and Belarusian opponents.