Participation at Wimbledon this year for Russian tennis star Daniil Medvedev may not be cut and dried. The British government is seeking some assurances that Russian players are not supporters of President Vladimir Putin.
This includes current world number two Medvedev, the highest-profile Russian in the men’s game. Wimbledon 2022 starts on June 27 and concludes on July 10.
A UK Parliament select committee got together in March to discuss the participation of Medvedev at Britain’s flagship tennis event, Wimbledon. British Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston hinted that certain “assurances” may be required for Medvedev to play the event.
The government committee wasn’t clear on exactly what assurances would be sought from players. However, Huddleston did report that talks were ongoing with the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which organises the Grand Slam.
Neither the ATP nor the WTA has stopped Russian or Belarusian players from participating in tournaments this year. However, players are not able to do so under the Russian flag, instead playing as neutral athletes.
As part of many sports entities shunning Russia and its ally Belarus due to the war in Ukraine, those national teams have been served bans. Russia and Belarus are currently banned from participating in tennis team events such as the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup.
There has been no direct denunciation of Putin by Medvedev, who has remained quiet thus far about this situation. Earlier in March, when addressing the media and fielding questions about the war, the Russian said: “My message is always the same – I want peace in all of the world.”
Medvedev is the current world number two in the ATP behind Novak Djokovic. The Russian made his Grand Slam breakthrough when he won the US Open last year, and has reached at least the quarter-finals in five of the last seven Grand Slam tournaments.
Medvedev’s record from four entries at Wimbledon has seen him fail to progress past the fourth round.
The head of the WTA, Steve Simon, hasn’t lent support to the banning of players if they fail to denounce Putin.
“I feel very strongly that these individual athletes should not be the ones that are being penalised by the decisions of an authoritarian leadership that is obviously doing terrible, reprehensible things,” Simon stated.
Should the UK government force a ban on Russian players, then the WTA and ATP would also need to change their rules.