Wimbledon: Victoria Azarenka 'doesn't understand' ban on Russian & Belarusian stars

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus

Victoria Azarenka has claimed the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian tennis players from Wimbledon “makes no sense.”

It was announced last month that players from the two countries would be prohibited from playing at this year’s Grand Slam, following the invasion of Ukraine in February.

This decision was met with criticism from the ATP and the WTA, who have allowed players to compete in a neutral capacity, without their national flag or national anthem.

Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Novak Djokovic also slammed the ban enforced by the All England Club.

Azarenka, the Belarusian former world number one and WTA Players’ Council member, is the latest to voice her opinion on the situation.

“If you ask me if I agree with the decision of the organisers of Wimbledon or understand their arguments after a personal conversation with them, then I don’t understand their arguments,” said Azarenka, according to Russian state-run news agency TASS.

“It makes no sense and is not related to what they say.”

Azarenka attended a conference call with Wimbledon’s chief executive Sally Bolton and tournament director Jamie Baker to listen to the reasoning behind the ban. 

TASS reported a Belarusian player at the meeting brought a lawyer who specialises in human rights and discrimination, suggesting a legal challenge could be made.

“I don’t know,” Azarenka said when asked whether she was considering legal action.

“A lot of people will be waiting to see what the consequences of those decisions are. I think based on that, individuals can make their own choices.”

A number of high-ranking tennis stars are currently set to miss out on Wimbledon, which is set to run from June 27th to July 10th. 

Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are the notable absentees from the men’s tournament, while their Russian teammates Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Daria Kasatkina and Veronika Kudermetova will miss the women’s event.

The ban on Belarusian players impacts world number four Aryna Sabalenka, who reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon last year.

Azarenka, who progressed to the last four at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2012, also misses out.

These players will be able to compete at the French Open, scheduled for May 22nd to June 5th, as neutrals.

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