Wimbledon offers extra help to Ukrainian players after Russia ban

Wimbledon organisers said on Tuesday they will offer extra financial support to Ukrainian players and causes after reversing a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes at this year’s event.

The All England Club, which runs Wimbledon, announced last month that the ban imposed last year would not continue after they were stripped of ranking points and punished by the WTA and ATP with hefty fines.

Competitors from the two nations will be able to enter the Grand Slam, which starts on July 3, as “neutral” athletes providing they comply with certain conditions, which include a ban on expressing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

At a press conference to announce plans for the 2023 tournament, organisers revealed that £1 from every ticket sold – expected to be more than £500,000 ($625,000) in total – will be donated to Ukrainian relief.

Funding will be provided for a day at the tournament for 1,000 Ukrainian refugees.

Two hotel rooms per Ukrainian player will also be offered free of charge as well as training facilities for the duration of the summer grass-court season.

Russian and Belarusian players have been able to compete on the men’s and women’s tours as neutrals, including at the other Grand Slams.

Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are both ranked in the top six of the men’s game, while Belarusian women’s world number two Aryna Sabalenka won the Australian Open earlier this year.

“Our announcement was made last month after careful and deep consideration,” said All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt.

“At the time, we set out the factors which informed our decision and why, taking all circumstances into account, we consider these to be the appropriate arrangements for Wimbledon this year.

“It was a difficult and challenging decision, which was made with the full support of our UK government and the international stakeholder bodies in tennis, but does not lessen in any way our total condemnation of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.”

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