PARIS (AP) — The ATP men’s professional tennis tour will not award ranking points for Wimbledon this year because of the All England Club’s ban on players from Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine.
The ATP announced its decision Friday night, two days before the start of the French Open -- and a little more than a month before play begins at Wimbledon on June 27.
The All England Club said in April it would not allow Russians or Belarusians to compete at the Grand Slam grass-court tournament.
Russian athletes have been prevented from competing in many sports, including soccer’s World Cup qualifying playoffs, since the country began attacking Ukraine in February. Belarus has aided Russia in the invasion.
“The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our tour,” the ATP said in a statement. “The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the U.K. this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP ranking system.”
Saying it made this move “with great regret and reluctance,” the ATP added: “Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a whole. Unilateral decisions of this nature, if unaddressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the tour. Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable on a tour that operates in more than 30 countries.”
Soon after news of the ATP’s response emerged, the International Tennis Federation said that it would not grant its ranking points for the junior and wheelchair events at Wimbledon this year, explaining that “tournament organizers are not permitted to unilaterally impose entry criteria.”
Among the prominent players affected by the Wimbledon ban are reigning U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who recently reached No. 1 in the rankings and is currently No. 2; men's No. 7 Andrey Rublev; women's No. 7 Aryna Sabalenka, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year; and Victoria Azarenka, a former No. 1 who has won the Australian Open twice.
Medvedev and Rublev are from Russia; Sabalenka and Azarenka are from Belarus.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press