Rafael Nadal insists he will lobby for Russian tennis players banned from Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal heads the ATP Player Council. (Photo by Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal says he will continue to oppose Wimbledon’s ban on Russian players and stand up for the rights of those barred from playing the most prestigious tennis tournament due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The lawn tennis federation said in April that it would follow the precedent of other organizations such as FIFA, UEFA and Eurovision by banning Russians from attending high-profile international events, in order to make the Russian state a sporting and cultural outcast after the president make Vladimir Putin’s devastating invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

The United Nations estimates that over six million people have fled Ukraine since the attack by land, air and sea began in late February, while shelling decimated cities like Mariupol, Kharkiv and Kherson. Belarusian players were also banned due to their nation’s hands-on support for the invasion.

A statement released at the time by the All England Club read: “Given the profile of the Championships in the UK and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread effort by government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to have a global impact.” to limit Russia with the strongest means.’

However, Nadal believes the war has nothing to do with the players who are not allowed to participate, including Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Aryna Sabalenka. ATP’s board of directors also oppose the ban and the Spaniard says he will use his role as representative of the ATP Players Council alongside Roger Federer to campaign for Russians’ rights.

“The only thing we can do is get in touch with Wimbledon and the rest of the ATP management to do the things that work better to protect every single player in the ATP,” said the 21- multiple Grand Slam winners. “Ultimately, that’s our job: protecting the players and working [to] to the benefit of every single player we represent.’

At the end of the month, Nadal called the ban “very unfair” and revealed his opposition to it.

“I think it’s very unfair [on] my Russian tennis friends, my colleagues,” said the Spaniard. “It is not their fault what is happening with the war at this moment. What happens in our game doesn’t matter at the end of the day when we see so many people dying and suffering and seeing the bad situation they have in Ukraine.’

Labor MP Chris Bryant criticized both Nadal and Federer, suggesting the two are implicitly supporting Vladimir Putin’s war by opposing the ban on Russian at Wimbledon.

“Federer and Nadal should come in,” he said. “Do they want Vladimir Putin to fail, or don’t they care? The men’s tour behaves frighteningly. It’s like they haven’t heard what’s happening in Ukraine or they don’t care.”

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tennis Rafael Nadal insists he will lobby for Russian tennis players banned from Wimbledon

Nate Jones

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