Pro Tours’ Response to Wimbledon’s Ban of Russian Players Could Impact Player Rankings

We have something of a standoff here

A general view outside Court No.1 at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on April 26, 2022 in London, England.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Last month, the All England Lawn Tennis Club announced a ban of players from Russia and Belarus for this year’s Wimbledon tournament. As a report from Sky Sports pointed out, this would lead to several high-profile men’s and women’s players to miss the tournament. The ban prompted plenty of debate within the sporting world, including questions over the best way to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

Now, the Association of Tennis Professionals and the Women’s Tennis Association have announced their response — and it could have a significant effect on the current tennis season. As reported by The Guardian, neither tour will award ranking points based on players’ performance at Wimbledon this year. The International Tennis Federation made a similar decision with regards to the junior tournament and wheelchair tournaments taking place there.

Given that the ranking system in tennis involves defending points achieved in a previous year’s tournament, this decision by both pro tours could result in significant shake-ups for men’s and women’s rankings.

“Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a whole. Unilateral decisions of this nature, if unaddressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the Tour,” the ATP noted in a statement. “Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable on a Tour that operates in more than 30 countries.”

“We greatly value our long-standing relationships with Wimbledon and the LTA and do not underestimate the difficult decisions faced in responding to recent UK Government guidance,” the statement continued. “However, we note that this was informal guidance, not a mandate, which offered an alternative option that would have left the decision in the hands of individual players competing as neutral athletes through a signed declaration.”

The tour added that it was “hopeful of further discussions with Wimbledon leading to an acceptable outcome for all concerned.”

In response, the AELTC stated that it was holding firm. “[W]e remain of the view that we have made the only viable decision for Wimbledon as a globally renowned sporting event and British institution, and we stand by the decision we have made,” the organization said in a statement.

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