Murray struggles to back Wimbledon ban of Russian and Belarusian players
Andy Murray does not support banning Russian and Belarusian players from taking part in Wimbledon or other Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) tournaments this year, while Novak Djokovic reiterated his position.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club recently announced that players from both nations were banned from competing in the British Grand Slam following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
This means men’s world number two Daniil Medvedev and women’s world number four Aryna Sabalenka would miss the British swing.
Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have both spoken out against the ban, while the ATP and WTA have also pushed for a review.
Now Murray, a two-time Wimbledon champion who also won Olympic gold at SW19 in 2012, has refused to back the ban.
“I’m not in favor of banning players,” Murray said in a press conference ahead of the Madrid Open, with the former world number one in action against Dominic Thiem on Monday.
“My understanding of the guidelines was that Russians and Belarusians can play if they sign a statement that they are against the war and against the Russian regime.
“I don’t know how I would feel if something happened to any of the players or their families.”
Murray understands this is a tricky situation, though.
“I don’t think there is a good answer. I spoke to some Russian players. I spoke to some Ukrainian players,” he continued.
“I feel really bad for the players who are not allowed to play and I understand that it will seem unfair to them. But I also know some people who work at Wimbledon, and I know how difficult a position they were in.
“I feel for everyone, I feel for the players who can’t play, and I don’t support either one.”
There has been speculation that the ATP and WTA may sanction Wimbledon, with one possibility being to reduce the number of tour points offered by the grand slam.
World number one Djokovic, who will be cleared to compete at Wimbledon, where no COVID-19 vaccination requirements will be in place for players, is unsure what the next step will be.
He told reporters: “I spoke to some of the Russian players in Belgrade [at the Serbia Open].
“Obviously it’s not an easy situation to live with. To be deprived of the right to participate in one of the biggest tournaments, if not the biggest tournament in the world, it’s hard, I understand that. There are frustration.
“[The] ATP will analyze the whole situation and figure out what can be done. I haven’t spoken to the ATP people so I’m not sure. I experienced something similar, not the same, but something similar earlier this year for me [when he was denied entry to Australia due to his COVID-19 vaccination status].
“It’s frustrating to know that you can’t play. I still maintain my position that I don’t support the decision. I think it’s just not fair. It’s not fair. But it’s is what it is, they have the right to make the decision.
“I guess it’s up to the Player Council, the tour management, to really decide, with the players, what’s the best course of action in this situation, whether they keep the points, protect the points, take away 50% of the points .
“So I’ve heard that some of these models are still considered to be used in this kind of instance, but I don’t know what’s right, what’s wrong, to be honest. I guess we’ll have to wait and see the result.”