Wimbledon is changing its status
The competition must lose professional ranking points. We explain what this all means
A decision is to be made this week on the removal of all professional ranking points at Wimbledon 2022, as well as other British grass-court tournaments. All this is because of the actions of the organizers of the famous tennis competition, who suspended all Russian and Belarussian players from the current draw.
We remind, that in early March seven leading tennis organizations – ATP, WTA, ITF and four tournaments “Grand Slam” – together decided to allow the Russian and Belarusian players to participate in all individual tournaments without a flag, anthem and indication of the name of the country. This compromise was successfully implemented at all competitions in both professional and junior tennis during the last two months. But the organizers of the most prestigious grass tennis tournament – Wimbledon – single-handedly went against all the agreements and announced that this year Russians and Belarusians will not play at Wimbledon or other tournaments in Great Britain.
This unilateral decision of Wimbledon, contrary to the common agreement, immediately caused a strong negative reaction from the heads of the professional tours, as well as from the world’s leading players. In particular, 21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal said: “I think it’s very unfair to my colleagues. It’s not their fault. I feel sorry for them. I wish the situation would have been resolved differently. It’s clear that Grand Slam tournaments are not part of the ATP. But at the same time, ATP has the most points in them, 2,000 points, and we need to play there. We’ll see what we can do.” So Nadal immediately hinted that something needs to be done about the ranking points at Wimbledon to restore justice to our ATP and WTA players.
The fact is that all four Grand Slam tournaments – the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open – have been held for over 100 years. It has always been prestigious to be on the champion’s list at these events, but not always any meaningful points have been awarded at these events. Only last 50 years there are professional tennis tours – men’s ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) and women’s WTA (Women’s Tennis Association), leading their rating system. And the greatest number of points in the professional individual ranking of players just for the Grand Slam tournaments, which are traditionally held under the auspices of the ITF (International Tennis Federation). Thus, the men’s champion receives 2,000 rating points besides the title, a memorable trophy and impressive prize money. And it turns out that Wimbledon is held under the auspices of the ITF, the British Lounge Tennis Association (LTA) and the All England Lounge Tennis Club (AELTC). However, ATP and WTA are solely in charge of the tournament ranking points and they have the right to do anything with them.
According to British media, in the course of the Rome tournament there are urgent talks between the ATP, WTA and the organizers of Wimbledon to settle the scandalous situation around the British tournament. There is information that all the negotiators are firmly on their positions: Wimbledon is adamant about the ban of the Russian and Belarusian tennis players, and the ATP and WTA are threatening to deprive the most prestigious grassroots competition of all ranking points this year. This has never happened in the Open era of tennis, which dates back to 1968. If it happens that the Wimbledon 2022 champion and champion do not get their 2,000 ranking points, the competition will simply change status. Wimbledon will be just an exhibition contest, although it will be very prestigious.
In the history of Grand Slam tournaments there have been many cases when world famous players or even a whole group of players did not come to a competition or even announced a boycott. However, the prestige of getting a tennis player to the list of champions did not decrease. If you remember the latest cases, during the coronavirus at the US Open – 2020 could not go to America, multiple Slam champions Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic was disqualified in the course of the competition. Dominic Thiem became the champion in the end, but that does not detract from his merits and the prestige of the title he won. The latest example is the Australian Open – 2022, when the authorities of the country did not allow the reigning champion and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic to participate in the tournament. In a couple of decades, few will remember this scandal, but the fact that Nadal won his 21st “Slam” at this tournament will remain for centuries.
Wimbledon is unlikely to change its position. Most likely, neither Daniil Medvedev, who is now fighting for the title of the world’s No. 1 racket, nor top-10 players Arina Sobolenko and Andrey Rublev, nor other Russian and Belarusian tennis players will ever be able to play in the 2022 draw. And the WTA and ATP have several options to solve the problem. The first is to leave everything as it is and not to take any points. The second option is to freeze the points of the Belarusian and Russian players for the draw-2021 for one more year, so that their ranking positions will not change much due to the current non-participation. The third one is to deprive Wimbledon and other UK competitions of ranking points for the 2022 season, turning these tournaments into exhibition ones. We do not have long to wait for the final decision on the Wimbledon scandal. We keep an eye on the situation.