A sharp reaction to Wimbledon without the Russians
Wimbledon organizers may not allow Russian and Belarusian tennis players to participate in the tournament – isn’t it as invigorating as a morning shower? But Sportico, citing an anonymous source and other media outlets that launched this informational flashmob, nevertheless chose a gentler formulation: they do not assert, but assume.
It is too early to panic. So far, the information is unofficial, as the organizers of the tournament, the All England Lawn Tennis Club, have promised to make a decision in mid-May. Yes, they will not be influenced by ATP and WTA tour bosses, probably, as well as public opinion, but politicians may listen to them, even if they do not really want to.
After all, they are more than serious in Britain. In the middle of March, Nigel Huddleston, the Minister of Sport, ignited the information field by announcing that he did not want to see the Russians at the third Majors this year. He is “for” the suspension of athletes from Russia and Belarus – deprivation of the flag, anthem and any symbols on the court, you see, seems to him an insufficient punishment. Not only Wimbledon is in question, but also the Queen’s Club Championships, tournaments in Eastbourne, Nottingham and Birmingham.
“Medvedev at Wimbledon? Absolutely no one should perform under the Russian flag. I think we need to go beyond that as well. We need guarantees that athletes are not supporters of Putin. Would I be comfortable seeing a Russian athlete competing under the Russian flag? No,” said Huddleston.
But international journalist Ben Rotenberg urges everyone to be patient and wait for the verdict: everything will be decided later. And not even in mid-May, but a week later, on April 26.
“Wimbledon is holding its annual launch press conference in a week – April 26. So I assume that any major announcement about this year’s event will be made then,” Rothenberg believes.
Tennis coach Jeffrey Menaker decided not to lower the degree of pressure, but rather to plant a new information bomb: the Russians should not perform on the international stage at all.
“Obviously. This should be done in all sports. All levers of political influence should be used,” Menaker declares.
But American sports journalist John Wertheim confronts his colleague: such measures will definitely not solve the problem.
“I disagree. Before we get to the moral question-what constitutes adequate abandonment of autocratism-I’m not convinced that this is an effective way to achieve the ultimate goal,” Wertheim writes.
In response, his Twitter followers decided to dive into a bit of history:
“If someone had called for the banning of Agassi, Roddick, Williams and others during the invasion of Iraq, everyone would have screamed about how politics shouldn’t get in the way of sports. This is another example of some countries holding power and doing whatever they want with it. There is no objectivity”.
Boris Sobkin, an honorary coach of Russia, in a conversation with “Championship” urged not to be dramatic and to accept reality more calmly:
“Of course, skipping a major tournament like Wimbledon has an impact. It’s a big tournament with a lot of points. Understandably, all Grand Slam tournaments are a celebration and always have been. Unfortunately, now the situation is such that our tennis players may not be allowed. We all live and work within the limits of what we have. So I would urge not to be dramatic. It’s an unpleasant situation, but I wouldn’t dramatize the plot.”
Andrey Chesnokov, a 1989 Roland Garros semifinalist and winner of two Masters Series tournaments, also reacted to information that Daniil Medvedev and other Russian tennis players may be suspended from Wimbledon:
“Medvedev is not alone. There are other Russian tennis players. It’s a terrible decision. But if that’s their decision, then let them give Medvedev the money for the win and for the moral damage. There are rules that must be followed.”
Serbian journalist Sasha Ozmo, who has covered the Novak Djokovic situation, is simply not surprised by the 2022 routine:
“A little bit of news from the world of tennis when I wake up…”
The first of the tennis players, Ukrainian Oleksandr Dolgopolov was especially sharp:
“There are rumors that Wimbledon is planning to do the right thing, as many sports have already done, and set an example of the right decisions for the tennis world. This has to stop. Yes, the Russians are responsible for the actions of their country, their army and the leaders they have chosen for 20 years.”
So far, the world tennis community is silent. But today we are likely to hear some provocative questions at press conferences, since Djokovic’s home tournament starts in Belgrade. Rublev, Karen Khachanov, Aslan Karatsev and Roman Safiullin are known to play there.
If the All England Club satisfies the official’s demand, the Russian top players, as well as Arina Sobolenko and Victoria Azarenka, will not be admitted to the tournament. And there are 17 world stars from Russia and Belarus who are in the top 100, 12 of them play in the women’s tour.