With the lifting of the ban on Russian and Belarusian tennis stars from Wimbledon the season’s most prestigious Grand Slam sees the return of some heavy hitters.
The AELTC and the LTA have reversed last year’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from the All-England Championships.
Wimbledon 2023 will see the return of tennis superstars from the afore mentioned nations, if they sign a neutrality agreement before the tournaments. This agreement will state:
· That players and staff will confirm that they are not representing the Russian or Belarusian state
· That they are not receiving funds from the Russian or Belarusian states or companies controlled by the states
· They will not express support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine
What happened at Wimbledon 2022?
Following Russia’s heinous invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the decision was made by the AELTC and the LTA to ban players representing Russia and Belarus from the Wimbledon Championships.
This decision was not met kindly by the ATP and WTA, who decided to strip all ranking points from that year’s Wimbledon, effectively rendering it an ‘exhibition grand slam.’
The ATP and the WTA also imposed heavy fines on the AELTC and the LTA, tallying up to $2 million.
Why lift the ban?
The LTA fears that further action from the ATP and WTA, such as banning LTA events from the professional circuit, could be heavily detrimental to British tennis.
“The effect on British tennis of the LTA being expelled from the tours would be very damaging and far reaching for the game in this country. The impact would be felt by the millions of fans that follow the sport, the grass roots of the game, including coaches and venues which rely on the events for visibility and to bring new players into the game, and of course professional British players,” – LTA Spokesperson.
In light of the recent declaration that the LTA will allow the return of Russian and Belarusian players, the WTA has decided to halve its initial fine to $375,000. The LTA are still awaiting the response of the ATP.
Which players stand to benefit the most?
The new declaration by the AELTC and the LTA means that some of the sport’s most skilled athletes will be returning for a crack at the Wimbledon title.
Four of the twenty highest ranked players on the WTA circuit herald from Russia.
Despite this, perhaps the player who will be most excited about their chances, is this year’s Australian Open champion and the World number two Aryna Sabalenka. The Belarusian superstar reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2021, narrowly losing out to Karolina Pliskova 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
As well as Sabalenka, the tournament will also see the return of one of women’s tennis’ greatest champions, Victoria Azarenka. The two-time Australian Open champion will return to Wimbledon hoping to go further than her two semi-final appearances in 2011 and 2012.
On the men’s side of the draw, it is mainly Russian players who stand to benefit from the lifting of the ban, most notably former world number one Daniil Medvedev.
Despite Medvedev never making it past the fourth round at the Championships, it is worth noting that he has only made four appearances. Medvedev is sure to be a contender at this year’s tournament, with his flat, low to the ground style suiting Wimbledon well.
His fellow countrymen also making a return to Wimbledon include recent Monte Carlo champion Andrey Rublev and former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Karen Khachanov.
Khachanov is the more likely of the two to produce a good run at the Championships, with his big serving, heavy hitting style more suited to the grass of Wimbledon.
Getting tickets for Wimbledon 2023?
With the return of some of the top seeds in both the men’s and women’s draw, Wimbledon 2023 promises to deliver some exceptional tennis over its two-week run time.
The return of ranking points will surely add another dimension to the level of play across the tournament, with players desperate to improve their overall ranking and prize money.
To get the best seats in the house look no further than Wimbledon Debenture Tickets, the best way to experience your Wimbledon adventure.
Check out our other articles of the Order of play at Wimbledon 2023, as well as a guide to the best seats available.