French Open's huge call on Russian players after Wimbledon ban

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The French Open looks set to allow players from Russia such as Daniil Medvedev to compete at the 2022 grand slam. Pic: Getty
The French Open looks set to allow players from Russia such as Daniil Medvedev to compete at the 2022 grand slam. Pic: Getty

French Open officials have taken Wimbledon's controversial Russia ban into account after handing down their own ruling for the grand slam at Roland-Garros.

Wimbledon officials caused a massive divide in the tennis world after last week announcing that players from Russia and Belarus would be banned from competing at the grand slam, in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

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The All England Club (AELTC), which runs the grasscourt grand slam, defended its move this week by insisting it was left with "no viable alternative" but to issue the bans, in order for the tournament to avoid "being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime".

The move has been massively unpopular in the tennis world, with players past and present, as well as the governing bodies of men's and women's tennis - the ATP and WTA respectively - speaking out against the bans.

Reports had suggested French President Emmanuel Macron and French tennis chiefs were considering issuing similar bans to those being imposed at Wimbledon.

However, reports emerging from France suggest the players will be allowed to play under a neutral flag, as they have done at ATP and WTA events since Russia started their war in Ukraine.

Men's World No.2 Daniil Medvedev and women's two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka are among those set to be banned from playing Wimbledon.

From left to right, Russian and Belarusian tennis stars Daniil Medvedev and Victoria Azarenka.
Russian and Belarusian players such as Daniil Medvedev and Victoria Azarenka (pictured) look set to be able to compete at the French Open. Pic: Getty

However, it appears as though Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to play in the French Open, with Roland-Garros officials taking into account the widespread backlash to Wimbledon's move.

Wimbledon and the LTA are waiting to discover what punishment they will face after their ban was confirmed, with AELTC chief Ian Hewitt insisting they had no option other than to impose the ban.

“The UK Government has set out directional guidance for sporting bodies and events in the UK with the specific aim of limiting Russia’s influence,” he said.

“After lengthy and careful consideration, we came to two firm conclusions. First, even if we were to accept entries from Russian and Belarusian players with written declarations, we would risk their success or participation being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime, which we could not accept.

“Second, we have a duty to ensure no actions we take should put players or their families at risk. We understand and deeply regret the impact this decision will have on all the people affected.

“But we believe we have made the most responsible decision possible in the circumstances, and there is no viable alternative within the framework of the government’s position to the decision we have taken in this truly exceptional and tragic situation.”

Wimbledon's Russia ban divides tennis world

WTA president Steve Simon this week warned Wimbledon organisers that they face "strong reactions" to the ban, with more twists expected in the coming days.

Moves by the WTA could include a refusal to award ranking points at the June 27-July 10 tournament, which would effectively reduce Wimbledon to the status of a high-profile exhibition event.

Russian tennis star Andrey Rublev described the bans as "complete discrimination" and defending Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic said the decision was "crazy".

Hewitt rejected accusations of discrimination, saying it was a "considered view" after a process that included conversations with players directly affected.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic will also be able to challenge for his seventh Wimbledon crown after officials confirmed players would not be required to be vaccinated against coronavirus.

The unvaccinated Serb was deported from Australia in January after losing a last-ditch court bid to stay in the country — denying him the chance to defend his Australian Open title.

Last year's Covid-related restrictions at Wimbledon, which included reduced crowds for most of the tournament and strict conditions imposed on the players, will all be lifted.

with agencies

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