World number five Aryna Sabalenka said on Sunday that Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players last year achieved “nothing” and that she “really hoped” it would change course in 2023.
Following Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association came under pressure from the government to impose a ban.
Russian and Belarusian players, including Sabalenka, were eventually barred from Wimbledon with both the ATP and WTA -- the men’s and women’s governing bodies -- stripping the Grand Slam of its ranking points in response.
“I’m just really disappointed sport is somehow in politics. We’re just athletes playing their sport. That’s it. We’re not about politics,” she told the Melbourne Age newspaper on the sidelines of the Adelaide International.
“If all of us could do something, we would do it, but we have zero control.
“They banned us from Wimbledon, and what did it change? Nothing -- they’re still doing this (war), and this is the sad (part) of this situation.”
The LTA, Britain’s governing body for the sport, has yet to announce whether the ban will remain for 2023.
Sabalenka said “no one supports war” and she hoped to be able to play at Wimbledon this year.
“I really hope that I’ll play there (in 2023), just because of the people, to feel this atmosphere,” she said.
Other players barred from the All England Club last year included Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, and Victoria Azarenka.