“Not all Ukrainians want Russian and Belarusian players to be banned from playing,” said Elina Svitolina, who won the bronze medal in the women’s tennis singles for Ukraine at 2020 Tokyo Olympics, objecting to the decision by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) to not allow players from the two countries to compete at Wimbledon this year. The AELTC announced on Wednesday that they decided not to allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete at this year’s Wimbledon, which begins on June 27 (local time), in protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“If players don’t speak out against the Russian government then it is the right thing to ban them,” Svitolina told a BBC Radio program. “If not, then it is fair they should be allowed to play and compete.”
When the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced that Russian players can compete on their own as individuals, Svitolina, who has the highest world ranking among male and female Ukrainian tennis players, competed with Russian tennis player Anastasia Potapova. After defeating Svitolina defeated Potapova 2-0, Svitolina pledged to donate her prize money to the Ukrainian army.
Russian players protested the decision. Andrey Rublev, who is ranked No. 8 in men’s singles, said after reaching the quarterfinals of the Serbia Open that the decision does not help resolve the conflict at all and only incites hatred and intolerance. After winning a semi-final match at the Dubai Tennis Championships in Feb., Rublev wrote “No war please” on the camera.