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Tennis officials dropped the ball when they failed to ban Russian players after Putin‘s military invaded Ukraine last year, so says the world’s number 1 ranked player, Iga Swiatek.
“I heard that after World War II, German players were not allowed as well as Japanese and Italian, and I feel like this kind of thing would show the Russian government that maybe it’s not worth it,” 21-year-old Swiatek told the BBC.
Iga believes WTA and ATP officials displayed a “lack of leadership,” turning the tour into a “chaotic place.”
“I feel like tennis, from the beginning, could do a bit better in showing everybody that tennis players are against the war.”
Now, Swiatek feels it’s too late to impose a ban, saying … “now it would be pretty unfair for Russian and Belarusian players to do that because this decision was supposed to be made a year ago.”
FYI, in 2022, Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarusian players from playing in the world’s top tennis tourney. However, the All England Club lifted the ban ahead of the 2023 tournament, clearing the way for players like Aryna Sabalenka and Daria Kasatkina to compete.
Swiatek, a 3x majors winner, says she’s not necessarily angry at the Russian tour players, and even has a lot of respect for some of them.
“I did shake hands, for example, with Daria Kasatkina. She openly said that she’s against the war at the beginning and it would be her dream for the war to finish.”
Iga continued … “I really respect that because I feel it’s brave for Russian athletes to say that because their situation is pretty complicated and sometimes it’s hard for them to speak out loud about it.”
Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine has continued to rage on … over 400 days after Russia invaded the country.