Wimbledon boss Sally Bolton admits Russian ban ‘regrets’

Wimbledon shocked the world when it banned Russian and Belarusian stars, revoking their ranking points.

Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton said on Monday she was relieved that the world’s best stars had turned up at the Grand Slam, even though no ranking points are offered.

Both the ATP and the WTA, which control the men’s and women’s tours, took away the points after the All England Club banned Russian and Belarusian players in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

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It means that players like US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka will not be able to play in London.

Bolton, who said the decision to ban the players had been “incredibly difficult”, repeated that Wimbledon organizers were disappointed with the ATP and WTA decision.

“We thought it was a disproportionate decision in the context of the situation we were in and in the context of the global situation,” she said before the game on Monday.

“And of course it punishes all players, so we thought it was disproportionate and I think the quality of the field we play in the championships speaks for itself.”

Bolton also said she supported the decision to ban the players, despite what happened.

“It was an incredibly difficult and complex decision at the time,” Bolton told the BBC on Monday morning.

“We thought about it for a long time and made that decision. It was complicated, but we stick with it. It was the right decision for the championship. It is still the right decision to make for the championships. We deeply regret the impact it has on individual players. But it remains the right decision for us this year.”

Former number one in the world Naomi Osakawho withdrew from Wimbledon last month with an Achilles tendon injury, had previously said she could skip the decision to scrap ranking points.

But two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray would “never feel like an exhibition” despite the lack of points.

Bolton said she expected a record attendance for the Championships this year, with the tournament switching to a permanent policy of playing on the middle Sunday, which used to be a rest day.

“The history of why we didn’t play on the middle Sunday was about the courts that needed a rest, but as the technology, care and attention of the grass court has improved over the years, we have come to a place where we believe that the courts… 14 days,” she says.

“And so we’re confident it’s possible and we’re really excited about adding the extra day, but especially the extra day on a Sunday when we think about the audience available and we’re considering getting tennis out to as many people as possible. bring if we can. worldwide.”

Bolton also welcomed Wimbledon’s traditional ticket queues, which did not happen during last year’s coronavirus-disrupted event.

“Hugely important and basically the fact that we didn’t have it last year I think everyone stressed the importance and importance of it,” she said. “It was sorely missed.

“The reason the queue is important isn’t because we think people enjoy queuing, especially in the UK, although traditionally everyone assumes the British like to queue, but it’s really about accessibility.”

However, the fans didn’t quite agree as fans raved about scenes.

One fan said it was “the worst of Wimbledon” and that the way other grand slams organize ticket sales is “so much better”.

Another said: “The queue impresses me zero. it just goes to show that Wimbledon still has an outdated and backward ticketing system. to be honest, it’s just really embarrassing in 2022 and no reason to celebrate.”

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