Players bemoan lack of ranking points at Wimbledon

Players bemoan lack of ranking points at Wimbledon
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Sloane Stephens of the U.S. in action during her first round match against Germany’s Jule Niemeier REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Players were disappointed about the absence of ranking points at Wimbledon this year but had grudgingly accepted the governing bodies’ decision, Tunisia’s world number six Ons Jabeur said on Sunday.

The world’s most prestigious tennis tournament was stripped of its ranking points by the ATP and WTA Tours over its decision to exclude players from Russia and Belarus due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Rankings determine a player’s ability to enter tennis events and receive seedings, and the absence of them will reduce Wimbledon to an exhibition tournament.

“It’s a very difficult decision; we’ve been talking a lot with the WTA. I wish they can find a solution but I don’t think anything will change with the no points,” Jabeur told reporters after exiting the French Open in a shock opening-round loss.

“Obviously a lot of players are disappointed.”

This year’s Wimbledon will be the first time players have been excluded on grounds of nationality since the immediate post-World War Two era when German and Japanese players were banned.

Tennis governing bodies have themselves banned Russia and Belarus from international team competitions following the invasion, which Moscow calls a ‘special operation’, but have allowed players from the two countries to compete as neutrals.

The Wimbledon move has been condemned by tennis governing bodies as discriminatory and their sanction on the grasscourt Grand Slam will mean that players will be unable to defend the points they earned in the 2021 championships.

“I wish we had points… because it’s not fair if we drop all the points without us defending anything, especially some people had finals, semi-finals,” Jabeur said.

Wimbledon’s decision has been criticised by top players such as 21-times Grand Slam champion Rafa Nadal who labelled it unfair, while world number one Novak Djokovic said he did not support the decision.

Djokovic, who will lose the 2,000 points he earned by lifting last year’s trophy, is among many who will be impacted and could drop down the rankings.

“It’s a tough decision for everybody, for some players it is probably very painful,” said former U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem, who missed the 2021 Wimbledon with an injury.

Former U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens, who sits on the WTA Players’ Council, said it was unfortunate for those who would lose points but backed the tours’ stand.

“The decision that’s been taken obviously wasn’t taken lightly,” she said. “I think when you are backed into a corner and that’s all you can do, I think that’s why the decision was made, and I support it.

“When you look at the principles and what our tour stands for, discrimination will never be tolerated. It’s a lot of players that will lose points. I’m going to lose points. But that’s not what we stand for as a tour.”

-Reuters

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