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There is no logic to what they propose – Emotional Rublev’s critique of Wimbledon ban, updated with reactions across tennis
Andrey Rublev and fellow players had a call with Wimbledon officials on Wednesday, and proposed donating all of their prize money to humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
As one of tennis’ top Russian talents, and an elite athlete who relishes playing the sport on the biggest stages, Andrey Rublev was emotional when he spoke of Wimbledon’s ban of Russian and Belarusian players at Belgrade on Thursday.
Rublev, who was the first Russian to make a public statement for peace after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine commenced (he actually did it before the invasion broke out, when he won doubles in Marseille with Ukrainian Denys Molchanov), feels that Wimbledon is discriminating against athletes that have no say in what their government does.
He is part of a chorus of disapproval across the world of tennis, which includes Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King as well as the PTPA and – perhaps unsurprisingly – the Belarus Tennis Federation.
Reporter Ana Mitric was one of the journalists that spoke with Rublev on Thursday. She tweeted that the 24-year-old world No 8 was “clearly emotional” and that he “spoke from the heart.”
Rublev – the ban is not going to change anything
Rublev told reporters that he joined a call with Wimbledon on Wednesday, along with a few other players, and said that he came away baffled by the logic used in the AELTC’s decision-making.
“To be honest, the reasons that they gave [for the ban]. . . there is no [sense]. There is no even logic [for what] they propose,” Rublev said. “And I understand, for example, if they banned us—if they banned Russian players and Belarusian players—and at least it made like a half-percent or something of change or help. But it’s not gonna do anything and it’s not gonna change anything. . . . Because the thing that’s happening now, it’s completely discrimination [against] us.”
If we really want to help let’s give away all our prize money to humanitarian aid
Rublev suggests that a better solution would be to offer financial aid. He said that the Russian players proposed giving all their prize money to humanitarian aid for those currently suffering. Given the depth of talent that was set to compete for Russia and Belarus at the Championships, the level of donation could have been significant.
“What we proposed to Wimbledon—and I hope that it will make sense and I hope that they will think about it—is to have at least a chance to choose if we want to play or we don’t want to play,” he said. “And if there is a statement that we need to sign, on top of that, to give all the prize money to humanitarian help—to the families who are suffering, to the kids who [are] suffering.”
“It’s not gonna do anything and it’s not gonna change anything. . . . Because the thing that’s happening now, it’s completely discrimination [against] us.”— Andrey Rublev
Rublev feels that the aforementioned proposal would be a win-win for both parties. Wimbledon’s reputation would be enhanced and the Russian players would be able to play while simultaneously offering much-needed assistance to those in need in Ukraine.
“I think that move, at least, will do something—at least, that means and it will show that [the British] government is standing for peace, and they really want to do action to help. And I think, if you calculate more or less the amount of money, it can be [depending on results of the Russian and Belarusian players at Wimbledon] up to 1 million pounds. And this is a huge [amount of] money that I think in two months not one [other] sport ever donated. So, tennis would be the first and only sport who will donate that amount of money and it will be [through] Wimbledon. So, they will take all the glory, all the respect from everyone—not from us [players], because no one cares about us. So, I think this is the right move to maybe to see and to check this.”
Meanwhile: Compete and stay humble
Rublev says that at the end of the day, he and his fellow players just want to put the politics aside and play the sport they love, at the world’s most prestigious venue.
“In the end of the day, we want to compete; we are not here to talk about politics,” he said. “I’m Russian and I was born in Russia and live all my life in Russia. And I just want to show that we are good people. . . . In my case, I just try to be humble and try to be educated in the right way. So, I hope that’s made everything clear.”