Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players taking part last year was unjust and changed nothing regarding the war in Ukraine, believes Aryna Sabalenka.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) barred players from both countries appearing at SW19 – a decision that saw the organisation fined by the ATP last month.
World number five Sabalenka joined the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Victoria Azarenka in being excluded, and she believes the ban was both unfair and pointless.
“This is really terrible because no one supports war – no one,” Sabalenka told The Age of the ban. “I’m just really disappointed sport is somehow in politics.
“We’re just athletes playing their sport. That’s it. We’re not about politics. If all of us could do something [about the war], we would do it, but we have zero control.
“They banned us from Wimbledon, and what did it change? Nothing. [The Russian government] are still doing this, and this is the sad part of this situation.”
The LTA is yet to say whether similar measures will be in place this year, and Sabalenka is hopeful of a return after missing the atmosphere at SW19 in 2022.
“I really missed the people because the atmosphere at Wimbledon is super amazing,” she said. “You can feel these people really love tennis there, and I really miss them.
“I really hope that I’ll play there, just because of the people, to feel this atmosphere. If they’re going to ban us again… I don’t care about Wimbledon’s decision. The only thing I’ll miss is the people.”