Wimbledon threatened with unthinkable sanction

Australian tennis legend Todd Woodbridge says there are no winners from a potential move by the ATP Tour to withdraw rankings points from this year’s Wimbledon tournament.

The All England Club appears to be headed for a major showdown with the world’s top male tennis players, over the club’s stance to ban players from Russia and Belarus, following the invasion of Ukraine.

The UK Telegraph reports the ATP board is expected to meet on Thursday or Friday to consider the matter, which would leave the tour at odds with the biggest tournament in the world.

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The ban means two of the top seven men in the world, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, won’t be able to participate in the year’s third grand slam tournament.

The WTA Tour is reportedly also considering its stance, and is likely to follow the ATP’s lead and strip Wimbledon of rankings points.

Neither the ATP or WTA has any direct involvement in the running of Wimbledon, which is organized by the All England Club, leaving the issue of rankings points the only real action the two tours can take over the club’s ban.

Wimbledon bans Russian, Belarusian players

Both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have recently come out in opposition to Wimbledon’s stance, reflecting the playing group’s displeasure at the move to ban players from the tournament.

“I’m surprised the tour would look to take points away, because as a player, the tournaments that you long to play well in, and to win, are the grand slams,” Woodbridge told Wide World of Sports.

“Taking points away won’t make any difference to the players wanting to play there, because of the prestige and the history of those events.”

Announcing the decision last month, Wimbledon boss Sally Bolton said the ban was the “only viable option.”

As the tennis world returns to normal following the disruption caused by COVID-19, Woodbridge urged all involved to keep the situation in perspective.

“The players have to look back over the last two years and recognize that it’s Wimbledon and the other grand slam events that have been able to sustain the sport,” he said.

“Nobody can win by having to make such a difficult decision, but ultimately, stripping Wimbledon of points does not help the sport at all.”

The current crisis has been compared to 1973, when 81 top players boycotted Wimbledon over a dispute between Yugoslavia’s top player, Nikola Pilic, and his country’s governing body.

Woodbridge pointed out that the current dispute between the ATP Tour and the All England Club wouldn’t diminish this year’s tournament in any way.

“It would surprise me, given the amount of prizemoney that’s on offer, if many players would choose not to play at Wimbledon,” he explained.

“Taking points away is not boycotting the tournament, any player that has grown up wanting to be a champion in our sport would be hard pressed to pass up the opportunity of playing at Wimbledon or any other grand slam tournament.

“I saw a piece that said Wimbledon would be little more than an exhibition. Any player would much prefer to win Wimbledon than any of the Masters series events.

“It holds more value and more prestige and more money. Nobody will ever take the victory away from those who choose to play the tournament.”

Wimbledon starts on June 27.

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