Wimbledon has been stripped of its ATP and WTA ranking points following the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this summer’s Championships.
Both organisations had criticised the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from SW19 this year following the invasion of Ukraine.
Wimbledon chairman Ian Hewitt said the UK Government had left them with “no viable alternative”, but the ATP and WTA have now removed ranking points from the tournament.
“The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our Tour,” read an ATP statement.
“The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP Ranking system.
“It is also inconsistent with our rankings agreement. Absent a change in circumstances, it is with great regret and reluctance that we see no option but to remove ATP ranking points from Wimbledon for 2022.
“Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a whole. Unilateral decisions of this nature, if unaddressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the Tour.
“Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable on a Tour that operates in more than 30 countries.”
The ATP said it does not “underestimate the difficult decisions” Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association had faced in responding to UK Government guidance.
But the Tour questioned Wimbledon’s claim there was no other decision to be made.
The statement added: “We note that this was informal guidance, not a mandate, which offered an alternative option that would have left the decision in the hands of individual players competing as neutral athletes through a signed declaration.
“Our internal discussions with affected players in fact led us to conclude this would have been a more agreeable option for the Tour.
“We remain hopeful of further discussions with Wimbledon leading to an acceptable outcome for all concerned.
“More broadly, we believe this matter again highlights the need for a united governance structure across professional tennis so that decisions of this nature can be made in a joint manner.”
Ranking points will remain at ATP Tour events at Queen’s (ATP 500), Eastbourne (ATP 250) and ATP Challenger events in the UK this summer.
“We have taken this decision on the basis that alternative playing opportunities are open to Russian and Belarusian players in those weeks, unlike during Wimbledon, which minimises any impact on the integrity of the rankings,” the ATP added.
“Sanctions related to LTA’s violation of ATP rules will be assessed separately.”
The WTA soon followed suit by announcing that it too was removing ranking points from Wimbledon.
WTA chairman Steve Simon said: “The recent decisions made by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to ban athletes from competing in the upcoming UK grass-court events violate that fundamental principle, which is clearly embodied in the WTA rules, the Grand Slam rules and the agreement the WTA has with the Grand Slams.
“As a result of the AELTC’s position that it will not honour its obligation to use the WTA rankings for entry into Wimbledon and proceed with a partial field not based on merit, the WTA has made the difficult decision to not award WTA ranking points for this year’s Wimbledon Championships.
“In addition, each of the WTA-sanctioned events (Nottingham, Birmingham, and Eastbourne) will be penalised and their WTA tournament sanctions will be placed on probation.
“Since alternative and comparable playing and ranking point opportunities exist in the same weeks as those events for the affected players, WTA ranking points will remain in place for those events.”
The International Tennis Federation also confirmed it would not grant ranking points to Wimbledon for juniors and wheelchair events.
“The ITF has determined that Wimbledon’s entry criteria banning Russians and Belarusians compromises the integrity of its international competition, in particular its ranking system, as there is a lack of alternative equivalent opportunities for players to compete for ranking points and prize money,” it said in a statement.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries urged the ATP, WTA and ITF to consider their decisions.
She said: “The international sporting community rightly moved quickly and came together to condemn (Vladimir) Putin’s illegal and barbaric actions in Ukraine.
“Given the importance of sport and cultural bodies in making the Russian Government an international pariah, we stand squarely behind the decision that Wimbledon and the LTA have taken to stand up for what is right.
“We deeply regret today’s decision and urge the ATP, WTA and the ITF to consider their stance on ranking points at the Championships.
“It does not send the right message to either Putin or the people of Ukraine.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe