“I don’t want to talk about politics”: Anti-war Simona Halep on Wimbledon ban
The former world No 1 wants to the focus to remain on her tennis, which will be the case when she takes on world No 2 Paula Badosa next in Madrid
Former world No 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep said she did not want to discuss politics when asked about the Wimbledon ban on Russian and Belarussian players while stating that she was against war.
Halep was asked about the controversy that has rocked the tennis world ever since the All England Club and Lawn Tennis Association announced that no Russian or Belarusian players would be allowed to compete in any of the tournaments in the United Kingdom, including Wimbledon.
The move marked a major backlash from several current and former players even as Ukrainian players asked for Russians and Belarusians to publicly denounce the Russian invasion.
The 30-year-old Halep, one of the most popular players on the women’s tour, said that the players from those countries were not at fault and knows it was a tough decision for everyone involved but refused to get deeper into the issue in Madrid.
“I don’t want to talk about politics, because it’s politics, in my opinion,” said the Romanian after winning her first-round match at the Madrid Open.
“I feel like it’s an individual sport, so these players, it’s not their fault, in my opinion. It’s a tough decision. I am sure everyone was struggling with it. Just I feel said for everything that is happening right now in Ukraine and all the people that are suffering. I am against the war and hopefully it’s going to be finished. We are close there. So it’s not easy for anybody, but it’s individual. They took the flag off, so I think that was a good move. But the rest, it’s politics. So I will stay away from politics. I love sports.”
Halep to meet new world No 2 Badosa
On Thursday, Halep, playing her first match with new coach Patrick Mouratoglou in tow, scored a straight-sets win over Shuai Zhang 6-2, 6-3. The win set up a blockbuster second-round showdown against the new world No 2 Paula Badosa, who cruised to a 6-3, 6-0 win over Veronika Kudermetova.
This will be the first meeting between the two players who are both ranked in the top 10 in the year-to-date WTA Race (Badosa at No 2 and Halep at No 10).