Who has voiced their opinions about the Russian and Belarusian players ban at Wimbledon?
Former world number one Novak Djokovic is among some tennis greats who have voiced their opposition to Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes.
Novak Djokovic says he “cannot support” Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competition this year, citing his own experience of war.
The All-England Club moved to suspend players from the two nations from entering this year’s grand slam event, amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The decision is one of many major sporting sanctions against the two countries, with Russia barred from World Cup qualification for Qatar 2022 and the cancellation of the Formula One Russian Grand Prix.
The move has been met with considerable pushback, with the ATP blasting the decision as “unfair”, and tennis icons like Djokovic speaking out against it.
Djokovic: “I know what kind of emotional trauma a war leaves”
The 20-time Grand Slam winner says the players are being punished for actions beyond their control.
“I will always be the first one to condemn the war,” said Djokovic. “As a child of war, I know what kind of emotional trauma a war leaves.
“Us in Serbia, we know what was happening here in 1999. Ordinary people always suffer – we’ve had lots of wars in the Balkans.
“That being said, I cannot support the Wimbledon decision. It’s not the athletes’ fault. When politics interfere with sport, it usually doesn’t turn out well,” the Serbian said.
King doesn’t support bans based on nationality
Six-time Wimbledon champion Billie Jean King also criticized the ban via a statement on Twitter. “One of the guiding principles of the founding of the WTA was that any girl in the world, if she was good enough, would have a place to compete,” she wrote.
“I stood by that in 1973 and I stand by that today. I cannot support the banning of individual athletes from any tournament, simply because of their nationality.”
Navratilova speaks on own experience with totalitarian regimes
Eighteen-time grand slam winner Martina Navratilova spoke out against the move in an interview on LBC Radio.
“The Russian and Belarusian players, some have even expressed, vocalized, their opposition to the war,” she said. “The only option therefore now for them to play would be to leave their country.”
“That’s something that I had to do in 1975, because of a totalitarian regime and now we are asking them to do the same, because of politics, because of optics… I understand the banning of teams, of course, representing the countries, but on an individual level, I just think it’s wrong,” she added.