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Elina Svitolina says it is right to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing at Wimbledon this year. However, she believes those who publicly condemn the war should be allowed to take part in the tournament. Wimbledon announced on Wednesday that all Russian and Belarusian players would be banned from playing at the Grand Slam in wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian and Belarusian players who speak out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should be allowed to compete at Wimbledon, says Elina Svitolina.

The All England Tennis Club banned players from both countries from participating at this year’s tournament on Wednesday.

The decision has been branded “unfair” by the ATP and WTA while world No.1 Novak Djokovic says the stance is “crazy”.

Svitolina, who is Ukrainian, believes Russian and Belarusian players who denounce the war should be allowed to take part in the third Grand Slam of the year.

“We don’t want them banned completely,” the world No. 20 told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“If players don’t speak out against the Russian government then it is the right thing to ban them.

“We just want them to speak up, if they are with us and the rest of the world or the Russian government. This is for me the main point.

“If they didn’t choose, they didn’t vote for this government,
then it’s fair they should be allowed to play and compete.”

Svitolina says the blanket ban on all Russian of Belarusian players is “very, very sad”.

She added: “There are many Russian players who can do more. I can count one hand how many Russian and Belarusian players who have asked me how I’m doing, how is my family, is everyone safe?

“That’s why I feel a bit sad about this situation. Personally some people should do a little bit more than they’ve done. It’s mysterious.

“The way Russian and Belarusian players have been treated is very, very sad. We are colleagues who see each other every week so it’s shocking to see this change and so quick.”

US Open 2020 doubles champion Laura Siegemund gave Eurosport her reaction to Wimbledon’s decision at WTA Stuttgart. She says it is “very difficult” to understand how a player can be banned if they vocally oppose the Russian invasion.

She said: “I see tennis professionals who have taken a massive and public stand against the war and now being excluded. I find that very difficult.

“Maybe I’m also ambivalent because I have a Russian doubles partner (Zvonareva). I have as well a lot of contact with Ukrainian players and I am completely against this war.

“This war should never have started and every day it continues is one too many. It is very important to send a signal. I don’t know if this is the right signal or if there are other ways.”

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