'Might get banned': Aussie's fury over 'disgusting' tennis drama

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·Sports Editor
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John Millman, pictured here speaking to the media.
John Millman speaks to the media. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

John Millman has lashed out at Wimbledon's 'unilateral' decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players while describing the situation in Ukraine as 'disgusting'.

Speaking emotionally in his post-match press conference after a first-round loss to Sebastian Korda at the French Open, Millman said players' views were being ignored amid a lack of consultation and communication.

The veteran Australian stalwart, who is on the Player Council for the ATP tour, also called on the British government to reveal whether it was actually behind the decision - not Wimbledon.

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The 32-year-old said he is still planning to play at Wimbledon, but suggested his comments might get him banned from the grass-court major.

"Look, my old man's flown over for it, Wimbledon's hallowed ground, mate, a beautiful place. I love it," Millman said.

"But I don't like how they went about making the decision. If the whispers are that it's government guidance, get the government to come out and say it was them.

"I'm getting older, there's probably not going to be so many opportunities to play Wimbledon, so I think I'll play but maybe I'll get banned for saying this stuff.

"I mean, you can, right? That's what I've had a problem with from the very start - unilateral decisions."

The Aussie veteran spoke for around 20 minutes about "wrong governance" at the highest levels of the sport.

"First, I want to put it out there that I'm against any conflict where people are dying," he began.

"The Russia-Ukraine conflict is terrible. My heart aches for the Ukrainian people, Ukrainian players, I hate that.

"But I hate all conflict. I didn't like the war in Iraq when collateral damage is seen as innocent people dying. I don't like the UK selling bombs to the Saudis when they bomb Yemen.

"I don't like Israel and Palestine conflict, don't like the Libya conflict, anywhere where people are dying. I think that it's rubbish.

"But also I don't like unilateral decisions. There was an opportunity to have the Russians (and) Belarusians play (at Wimbledon).

"There were two options - recommendations, not even laws - given by the UK government. One, to sign a declaration, and be able to play; and the other one to ban them.

John Millman, pictured here in action against Sebastian Korda at the French Open.
John Millman in action against Sebastian Korda at the French Open. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

"Without really any consultation, a unilateral decision was made to ban players. It just goes against what tennis is about.

"I have a problem with lack of communication. The player council, player reps on the ATP board, hadn't been consulted until after the decision had been made.

"The Russian and Belarusian players weren't even asked if they'd sign the declaration prior to this decision being made. We talk about their safety. They weren't even asked if they could sign it.

"And this is where the governance is wrong in tennis, at grand slam level. Because it should be a partnership.

"I know Covid's tough but in the last two years, we've seen grand slams change the date three times and our world's best player (Novak Djokovic) locked up in detention for two weeks, horrible scenes to watch whether you're pro-vaccination or not.

"It's tough times, but the buck's got to stop somewhere, where there's a change in governance and consultation where players and tournaments work together.

"I just don't see that and I don't see it with this decision."

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The ATP and WTA tours have responded to the ban by stripping Wimbledon of rankings points, essentially turning the hallowed tournament into a high-profile exhibition.

"We allowed our player reps and tournament reps to make that decision," Millman said.

"Obviously, there were a whole lot of options on the table, but the point is you can't make unilateral decisions and exclude players. It's discrimination, right.

"Players are being ignored. There's no consultation. There's frustration (from them) with everything, that they're being ignored, that points have been removed, frustration that there is discrimination.

"We've got to start working together and that's not happening."

with AAP

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