The head of the WTA ‘feels very strongly’ that Russian and Belarusian players should continue to compete
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. © Robert Prange / Getty Images
Russian and Belarusian tennis stars should not be punished with blanket bans, the head of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has said, but admitted he could not rule out changes if individual governments take action.
Players from Russia and Belarus are currently allowed to compete in events on the men’s ATP and women’s WTA tours, but without any national symbols and strictly as neutrals.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has banned both countries from team events and no competitions can be held in Russia or Belarus “until further notice,” after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine.
WTA chief executive Steve Simon said a complete ban on stars such as Russian men’s world number one Daniil Medvedev or Belarusian two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka would be wrong.
“You never know what the future may bring. But I can tell you that we have never banned athletes from participating on our tour as the result of political positions their leadership may take,” Simon told the BBC.
“So it would take something very, very significant for that to change, but again we don’t know where this is going.”