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Wimbledon are set to hold talks with the ATP and WTA over their decision on allowing Russian and Belarusian players into the event this year.
The British Grand Slam controversially banned players from the two countries from last year’s event following the invasion of Ukraine. As a consequence the leading men’s and women’s tennis organisations issued fines of £820,000 and stripped the 2022 edition of Wimbledon of its ranking points, which had significant ramifications for some players.
Furthermore, if Wimbledon opted to extend their ban, the Lawn Tennis Association were also threatened with expulsion from the male and women’s tours. This would have resulted in the loss of lucrative pre-Wimbledon events such as Queen’s, Edgbaston and Eastbourne, which would have cost the sport up to £20m.
Earlier this month it was revealed that Wimbledon bosses were set to overturn their ban. But now the All England Club’s chief executive Sally Bolton will enter into talks with ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi and WTA chief executive Steve Simon in an attempt to end the civil war that has divided tennis.
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The talks may also focus on whether any restrictions may be placed on the Russian and Belarusian players who may compete. Sportsmail had previously reported that players may be asked to sign a code of conduct if they show any support to the war, and officials are keen for Russian athletes to be seen as competing as individuals rather than for their country.
The decision to reinstate Russian and Belarusian players came after the likes of Andy Murray commented on the topic and was confident Wimbledon would reverse its ban. “It’s a really difficult one and I do feel for the players who weren’t able to play last year – but I also understand the situation and why it’s really hard for Wimbledon to make a call on it as well,” Murray told BBC Sport earlier this month.
“My understanding is that they are going to be allowed to play and I’m not going to be going nuts if that is the case. But if Wimbledon went down another route I would be understanding of that.”
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Wimbledon’s easing of restrictions would mean both men’s and women’s draws in London will witness the return of some significant title threats. Namely the likes of former world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev (both Russian) as well as Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who won her maiden major at the Australian Open in January.
In response to missing Wimbledon in 2022, Medvedev made a point of ignoring Novak Djokovic’s triumph over Nick Kyrgios in the men’s final, taking to social media to show he was watching F1’s Austrian Grand Prix instead. Sabalenka on the other hand, later confessed she didn’t watch Wimbledon “at all” but caught some of Elena Rybakina’s victory over Ons Jabeur.
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