In the world of tennis, the controversy surrounding Russian and Belarusian players continues to make headlines. Women’s world No.1 Iga Swiatek recently spoke out against the decision of tennis authorities not to ban these players outright following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. She argued that tennis officials missed an opportunity to send a strong message to the Russian government, but she also admitted that it is too late to do so now.
Swiatek has been a vocal supporter of her Ukrainian rivals and has criticized the WTA for not doing enough to support them. Unlike other sports that imposed an outright ban, tennis officials allowed Russian and Belarusian players to continue playing but as neutral athletes. They were allowed to play in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments, with Wimbledon being the only exception.
Wimbledon organizers were punished by not awarding the tournament ranking points, but the ban on Russian and Belarusian players has now been lifted. Both countries were also barred from team events like the Davis Cup, in which Russia was the defending champion.
Swiatek believes that tennis authorities could have done more to show that tennis players are against the war. She argued that sport is pretty important and has always been used in propaganda. She also expressed her frustration with the lack of leadership from both the WTA and ATP following the invasion, stating that tennis is in a chaotic place.
Lesia Tsurenko, a Ukrainian tennis player, recently slammed Belarus’s Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka for claiming that she had never felt so much hate in the locker room. Tsurenko argued that this was just another game that they were starting and that they were trying to play the victim.
Despite her criticisms of the Russian and Belarusian governments, Swiatek also expressed her sympathy for the players from these countries. She argued that it’s not their fault that they have a passport like that and that some of them have been brave enough to speak out against the war.
The controversy surrounding Russian and Belarusian players in tennis is unlikely to go away anytime soon. However, with the ban lifted, these players will be able to compete this year. It remains to be seen how they will perform and how they will be received by other players and fans. In the meantime, the tennis world will continue to watch and wait for any further developments in this ongoing saga.