Andrey Rublev has accused the All England Club of ‘complete discrimination’ following their decision to ban the participation of Russian and Belarusian tennis players at Wimbledon this summer.
Wimbledon announced on Wednesday that they have banned all players from Russia and Belarus from this summer’s Championships in light of the ongoing atrocities in Ukraine.
Along with world No 2 Daniil Medvedev, Rublev, the world No 8, is a big casualty of the SW19 tournament and he has joined others, including Novak Djokovic, in condemning the decision.
‘The reasons they gave us had no sense, they were not logical,’ Rublev told the AFP news agency at the Serbia Open in Belgrade.
‘What is happening now is complete discrimination against us.’
Rublev, who shortly after the war started in February appealed for peace when he signed a camera lens with a ‘no war please’ in Dubai, added: ‘Banning Russian or Belarusian players… will not change anything.
‘To give all the prize money (which last year totalled £35million), would have a more positive effect to humanitarian help, to the families who are suffering, to the kids who are suffering, I think that would do something.
‘Tennis will, in that case, be the first and only sport who donates that amount of money and it will be Wimbledon so they will take all the glory.’
Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev has hit out at Wimbledon’s ban preventing him competing
The All England Club has elected not to allow Russian or Belarusian players to compete
BIG NAMES WHO WILL MISS OUT AT SW19
World ranking: 2
Wimbledon 2021 result: Fourth round
World ranking: 8
Wimbledon 2021 result: Fourth round
World ranking: 4
Wimbledon 2021 result: Semi-finals
World ranking: 15
Wimbledon 2021 result: Third round
World ranking: 18
Wimbledon 2021 result: Second round
Sportsmail reported on Wednesday that concerns over the prospect of Medvedev winning Wimbledon – one of sport’s most iconic tournaments – with members of the Royal family in attendance on Centre Court was one of the key reasons that the nation’s players were banned from competing.
Medvedev, the World No 2 and reigning US Open champion, was among the favourites to win Wimbledon this summer.
Organisers will have been mindful of the genuine possibility that, come finals weekend, there would be pictures beamed around the world of someone from Russia or Belarus holding a trophy aloft on the Centre Court – at what is the centenary of the famous arena.
A Wimbledon statement read: ‘We share in the universal condemnation of Russia’s illegal actions and have carefully considered the situation in the context of our duties to the players, to our community and to the broader UK public as a British sporting institution. We have also taken into account guidance set out by the UK Government specifically in relation to sporting bodies and events.
‘Given the profile of The Championships in the United Kingdom and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of Government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible.
‘In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships.
‘It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022. If circumstances change materially between now and June, we will consider and respond accordingly.
‘We also welcome the LTA’s decision in declining entries from Russian and Belarusian players to UK events to ensure that British tennis is delivering a consistent approach across the summer.’
Djokovic and Rublev had the support of American tennis great Billie Jean King, who said she ‘cannot support’ banning athletes from any tournament ‘simply because of their nationality’.
World No 2 Daniil Medevdev (left) will join Rublev (right) in being sidelined at SW19 this year
The ban was put in place in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which started in February
The row has spilled over to both the ATP Tour and WTA Tour, who have expressed their dissatisfaction at the news, while the Belarus Tennis Federation (BTF) accused UK government officials of ‘incompetence and ignorance’.
‘The BTF categorically condemns the decision taken by the organisers of Wimbledon to suspend Belarusian and Russian tennis players,’ they said.
‘Such destructive actions in no way contribute to the resolution of conflicts, but only incite hatred and intolerance on a national basis.
‘At the moment, consultations of the BTF leadership with international law firms on sports law are ongoing and a strategy is being developed that is aimed at protecting, first of all, Belarusian tennis players around the world, and tennis in the Republic of Belarus as a whole.’
Sportsmail reported on Thursday that both the ATP and WTA tours are set to adopt special measures to protect those who are banned by Wimbledon and other UK tournaments this summer.
One proposal that will be discussed in the next week is bringing in a compensatory ranking-point scheme along the lines of the system employed during the period of Covid disruption.
World No 1 Novak Djokovic criticised the ‘crazy’ decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players
The idea is to support those from Russia and Belarus who, according to one senior official, are being ‘victimised’ by the stance of the All England Club.
Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club, said: ‘We recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime.
‘We have very carefully considered the alternative measures that might be taken within the UK Government guidance but, given the high profile environment of The Championships, the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at The Championships.’
Russia have already condemned the news and insisted it is ‘unacceptable’ to punish sports stars for political matters.