The leader of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has threatened “strong reactions” to the ban of Russian and Belarusian players from this summer’s Wimbledon Grand Slam.
Tournament organisers announced the ban last week, only to receive no small amount of backlash from players and governing bodies alike. Both the WTA and the men’s equivalent, the ATP, slammed the decision and are considering a “ranking freeze” to protect affected players.
Both tennis bodies criticised the “discriminatory” policy, and could levy sanctions upon the All England Club and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) in response. Speaking on the latest episode of The Tennis Podcast, WTA chief Steve Simon confirmed that the move goes against the agreement between the governing body and Wimbledon.
“We don’t have the same jurisdiction over the Grand Slams as we do [over] our own sanctioned events,” Simon admitted, before adding: We have precedents… where these situations may have occurred where fines and tournament sanctions have been imposed.
“We need to sit down with our tournament, our player councils and I suppose our board and see where everything’s at. I do think that you’ll see some strong reactions that will come from us, but what those are and how far they’ll go is still to be determined.”
While Russian and Belarusian teams have been banned from team events, individual tennis players have still been allowed to compete under a neutral flag. Wimbledon is the first and so far only event to explicitly announce a ban of those players.
Simon went on to add that, whatever reaction is taken by the governing bodies, they will be made independently with both the WTA and ATP making separate decisions. “People take the position that sports and politics shouldn’t match and shouldn’t be intertwined, but that’s not the reality,” he added.
“It is real life. The announcement that came out was extremely disappointing, to say the least. The one thing that this sport has always agreed upon – we don’t agree on a lot of things but the one thing we have always been united on – was that entry into our events… has always been based up on merit and without discrimination.”