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Nadal, Djokovic and Murray criticize Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes

Wimbledon explained its position, saying it did not want to “benefit the Russian regime’s propaganda machine.”

“I think it is very unfair (to) my Russian tennis teammates, my colleagues,” Nadal said at a press conference on Sunday ahead of the Madrid Open. “It is not their fault what is happening in this moment of the war.

“I’m sorry on their behalf, Wimbledon have just made their decision … the government did not force them to do so. Let’s see what happens in the next few weeks if the players want to make some kind of decision in it. connection.”

Ukrainian players have largely supported Wimbledon’s exclusion, and Sergiy Stakhovsky – who retired earlier this year and has since joined the Ukrainian army to defend his homeland – condemned Nadal’s stance.

“@RafaelNadal we competed together … we played against each other on tour,” Stakhovsky wrote on Twitter.

“Please tell me, how is it fair that Ukrainian players can not return home? How is it fair that Ukrainian children can not play tennis? How is it fair that Ukrainians die?”

The decision of the All England Lawn Tennis Clubs (AETLC) marks the first time that Russian and Belarusian players have been excluded from an elite tennis event following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Several high-profile players would be unable to compete, including Men’s World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and Women’s World No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka.

Belarus's Sabalenka reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year.
Murray, who is donating all his prize money this season to humanitarian aid in Ukraine, said he “did not support” the plan to ban Russian and Belarusian players from Wimbledon, but added that there was no “right answer” to the difficult . situation.

“My understanding of the guidance was that Russians and Belarusians can play if they sign a declaration that they are against the war and against the Russian regime,” he told reporters at the Madrid Open.

“I’m not sure how good I would feel if something happened to one of the players or their families (as a result).”

In the days following their invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s parliament passed a law imposing prison sentences of up to 15 years for deliberately spreading “false” news about the military, greatly increasing the risk of individual Russians speaking out against the war.

Current US Open champion Daniil Medvedev is unable to compete at Wimbledon this year.
Djokovic, meanwhile, mentioned his exclusion from the Australian Open for not being vaccinated against Covid-19 when he expressed his opposition to the ban for the second time.

“It’s not the same, but going through something similar earlier this year for myself, it’s frustrating to know that one is not able to play,” Djokovic said.

“I still stand by my position that I do not support (Wimbledon) the decision. I think it’s just not fair, it’s not right, but that’s what it is.”

Following criticism from the tennis world, AELTC defended their decision at a press conference last week.

“Even if we were to accept entries from Russian and Belarusian players with written statements, we would risk their success or participation in Wimbledon being used to benefit the Russian regime’s propaganda machine, which we could not accept,” said tournament president Ian Hewitt. journalists on Tuesday.

Players have not yet announced a coordinated response, but ATP and WTA are reportedly discussing countermeasures that could include removing ranking points from Wimbledon.

In a recent interview with CNN, Ukrainian tennis star Marta Kostyuk spoke about the psychological impact Russia’s invasion has had on her.

“I started a few weeks ago, which helps me tremendously. But you know, sometimes it goes to some degree that it’s scary, the thoughts that come to you,” said Kostyuk, who is extremely aware of the importance of trying to deal with her emotions and says she has worked with a psychologist.

“I do not want to say the words because you know you can figure out what I’m trying to talk about.

“Because at that point, there are so many things going on, you have to carry so much at once that you’re like, I can not handle this anymore.

“I’m just thinking, what’s the point of it all? It never ends like, what should I do with my life now? What do I live for?” she said.

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