April 07, 2023

Wimbledon Opens Its Doors


Wimbledon Opens Its Doors
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in a round one match at the Sydney International (2018). Sydney International Tennis WTA, Wikimedia Commons.

According to a recent statement issued by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), the organization has lifted its ban on Belarusian and Russian tennis players ahead of the 2023 Wimbledon Championship.

Tennis players from Belarus and Russia will be granted permission to compete as "neutral" athletes in the upcoming tournament. However, in light of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, players are strictly forbidden from showing any form of support for the hostilities. Moreover, they are also prohibited from accepting funding from their respective nations, including any form of sponsorship that may be "managed or controlled" by their governments.

Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club, elaborated: "We continue to condemn totally Russia's illegal invasion and our wholehearted support remains with the people of Ukraine." He said that the decision was "incredibly difficult" and that it was "not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted."

In April 2022, Wimbledon announced it would not let Russian or Belarusian athletes compete due to the Russian invasion. Belarusian tennis player Aryna Sabalenka, who was a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2021 and ranked fourth in Women's Tennis Association (WTA) rankings at the time, was one of the athletes who was significantly affected by the prohibition.

Hewitt added that "If circumstances change materially between now and the commencement of the Championships, we will consider and respond accordingly."

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