Nadal Joins Djokovic in Blasting Wimbledon's Ban for Russian, Belarussian Tennis Players
21:01 GMT 01.05.2022 (Updated: 10:06 GMT 30.11.2022)
© AP Photo / Mark J. TerrillRafael Nadal, of Spain, celebrates winning a game against Carlos Alcaraz, of Spain, during their men's singles semifinals at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, March 19, 2022, in Indian Wells, Calif.
© AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill
Late last month, the management of the world's oldest tennis tournament, Wimbledon, decided to ban all athletes from Russia and Belarus from participating in the prestigious Grand Slam due to Russia's ongoing special military operation in Ukraine.
Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic protested Wimbledon's decision to prohibit Russian and Belarusian players from this year's competition, expected to take place between June 27 and July 10 this year, the Associated Press reported on Sunday.
According to the two tennis legends, cited in the report, Wimbledon had acted unfairly. Nadal, a 21-time Grand Slam champion, spoke in his home country Spain, where he and Djokovic are preparing for the Madrid Open.
"I think it's very unfair [on] my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues [...] it's not their fault what's happening in this moment with the war," he said. "I'm sorry for them. Wimbledon just took their decision [...] the government didn't force them to do it."
Still, he added that the public should "see what happens in the next weeks, if the players will take some kind of decision in that regard."
In his turn, the world's number one player Djokovic likened the position of the excluded players to what he faced when he was unable to compete in the Australian Open this January. He was deported from Australia for not having received the COVID-19 vaccine.
"It's not the same thing, but going through something similar earlier this year for myself, it's frustrating knowing that you're not able to play," Djokovic said. "I still stand by my position that I don't support the decision. I think it's just not fair, it's not right, but it is what it is."
Additionally, earlier both the ATP and WTA tennis tours have publicly chastised the All England Club's decision, which was made public on April 20. In the original statement, however, Wimbledon noted that "If circumstances change materially between now and June, we will consider and respond accordingly."
The suspension affects renowned players from Russia, including reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, and French Open runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Belarus' Victoria Azarenka, would also be unable to compete.