Russians, Belarussians banned from Wimbledon — Power 5 conference champs — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, April 26, 2022

Happy Tennis Tuesday, y’all! How about we get right into the news that lit up the tennis world on Wednesday — because the tennis world knows I post on Tuesdays. Anyways, Wimbledon announced that they are banning individuals from Russia and Belarus from the 2022 Championships. They also “welcome the LTA’s decision in declining entries from Russian and Belarusian players to UK events to ensure that British tennis is delivering a consistent approach across the summer.” The UK sanctioning countries for invading and attempting to colonize another country is rich. The irony here — is palpable.

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I’ve flip flopped back and forth on my opinion on this for the last week and pardon my French, but this is bullshit.

On one hand, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has gone on for too long and Wimbledon officials are hoping to hit Russia where they have their most pride — their sports culture. I also understand and agree that teams should from these countries should be suspended or play under a specific unnamed flag, but tennis is an individual sport. I’ve talked ad nauseum about how players on tour are essentially independent contractors and don’t get a salary to fall back on. To make money, they have to play and win and the Grand Slams can help fund a player’s entire next year.

Simply there’s no right answer or fix here. You let players play, you basically tell Ukrainian players that they’re suffering isn’t enough. However, what about these players from Belarus and Russia? They’re not serving in Putin’s army, either. Elina Svitolina has suggested in the past that she would be fine with the players being allowed to play if they publicly denounce the war. While great in theory, these athletes and their families could be up for some serious trouble should they do that. Hello, Peng Shuai anyone?

Billie Jean King put out a fantastic statement that I think captures the majority of the tennis world’s opinion:

It should also be mentioned that this ban might not only be for the grass season. Rome, which is beginning next week, is in discussions to take part, as well. The WTA released a statement following Wimbledon’s announcement and opened the door to possible sanctions:

 A fundamental principal of the WTA is that individual athletes may participate in professional tennis events based on merit and without any form of discrimination. That principle is expressly set forth in our rules and has been agreed to by both AELTC and LTA.  Prohibitions against discrimination are also clearly expressed in their own rules and the Grand Slam rules.

This is another example of a Grand Slam going rogue and leaving the WTA in the dust, after Roland Garros moved their 2020 edition on the calendar without conferring with anyone else. When the core of the WTA is equality, this could be the beginning of a very dangerous slope for tournaments to essentially do whatever they please. What precedent is this sending to the tennis world and beyond?

Daria Kasatkina spoke out about the ban and showed grace and perspective, but I hope this decision gets reversed sooner than later. ATP player Andrey Rublev suggested that banned players be allowed to play if they pledge their prize money to public aid. If I were the WTA, I simply wouldn’t award ranking points if this ban doesn’t get lifted. When 2019 points still make up players rankings, you could also argue having the banned players keep their 2021 points, but I think it sends a bigger message by scraping them altogether. Legal action hasn’t been discussed by the ATP, but WTA CEO Steve Simon isn’t ruling it out.

Wimbledon said they would revisit the conversation before the Championships should new developments emerge, but it’s pretty simple. Reverse the ban and figure out a solution before this becomes a bigger mess — legally and optically.

This Week in Women’s Tennis

Tennis is united, kind of. The joint ATP/WTA mobile app is finally live.

Iga Swiatek continues to be the WTA’s demolition derby on her own. She captured her fourth consecutive WTA title and 23rd win in a row at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. The World No. 1 downed Aryna Sabalenka, with her only challenge being a water bottle:

The doubles title went to Desirae Krawczyk and Demi Schuurs, who downed Zhang Shuai and Coco Gauff in straight sets.

At the TEB BNP Paribas Tenis Championship Istanbul, qualifier Anastasia Potapova took home her maiden Hologic WTA singles title. The Russian defeated Veronika Kudermetova in the singles final, while Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo won the doubles title over Natela Dzalamidze and Kamilla Rakhimova.

Your weekly WTA Insider pieces:

  • Champions Corner with Stuttgart winner Iga Swiatek, as well as a tournament wrap.
  • Paula Badosa reaching a career-high ranking of No. 2 ahead of Madrid.
  • Emma Raducanu tackling on the red clay as a professional for the first time and embracing soccer culture.
  • Ons Jabeur changing technique with hopes of continuing to break barriers for Arabic tennis.
  • The tour’s rising stars adapting to success on the red clay.

I really appreciate the shady and hysterical cult moments the WTA brings. Here’s a recent compilation:

Congratulations to Maria Sharapova, who on her 35th birthday, announced she and fiance Alexander Gilkes are expecting their first child:

The tour heads to Madrid this week for the Mutua Madrid Open, who is in a little hot water by Spanish players for their wildcard choices.

Louisa Chirico earned the biggest title of her career while on the comeback trail from a long-term shoulder injury, leading the pack of this week’s ITF World Tour winners. There were no UTR Pro Tennis Tour events last week:

  • $60,000 Charlottesville, Virginia:
    • Louisa Chirico def. (3) Xiyu Wang, 6-4, 6-3
    • (4) Sophie Chang/Angela Kulikova def. (3) Valentini Grammatikopoulou/Alycia Parks, 2-6, 6-3, [10-4]
  • $60,000 Chiasso, Switzerland:
    • (1) Lucia Bronzetti def. Simona Waltert, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3
    • Anastasia Detiuc/Miriam Kolodziejova def. (1) Aliona Bolsova/Oksana Seiekhmeteva, 6-3, 1-6, [10-8]
  • $25,000 Santa Margherita di Pula, Italy:
    • Camilla Rosatello def. Ekaterina Reyngold, 6-3, 6-4
    • (4) Darya Astakhova/Ekaterina Reyngold def. Anna Turati/Bianca Turati, 7-6(6), 6-4
  • $25,000 Orlando, Florida:
    • (1) Mirjam Bjorklund def. (2) Alexandra Ignatik, 6-3, 6-4
    • (2) Catherine Harrison/Maegan Manasse def. (1) Yi-Chieh Hsieh/Chieh-Yu Hsu, 6-1, 6-0
  • $25,000 Monastir, Tunisia:
    • (1) Lin Zhu def. (WC) Victoria Mboko, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4
    • (1) Estelle Cascino/Jessika Ponchet def. Polina Kudermetova/Sofya Lansere, 6-0, 4-6, [10-7]
  • $25,000 Nottingham, United Kingdom:
    • Eden Silva def. Robin Montgomery, 6-4, 6-4
    • Gabriela Andrea Knutson/Katarina Stresnakova def. Lauryn John-Baptiste/Alice Robbe, 7-6(5), 6-3
  • $15,000 Piracicaba, Brazil:
    • Bianca Behulova def. (3) Jana Kolodynska, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4
    • (3) Sabastiani Leon/Laetitia Pulchartova def. (4) Fernanda Astete/Marie Mettraux, 6-4, 7-6(4)
  • $15,000 Antalya, Turkey:
    • (6) Julia MIddendorf def. (2) Victoria Kan, 6-1, 4-1, retired
    • (3) Misaki Matsuda/Riko Sawayanagi def. (2) Rina Saigo/Yukina Saigo, 7-6(1), 6-2
  • $15,000 Cairo, Egypt:
    • (2) Anastasia Zolotarerva def. (Q) Emily Welker, 7-5, 6-3
    • Diletta Cherubini/Mariia Tkacheva def. (4) Emeline Dartron/Lucie Nguyen Tan, 3-6, 6-3, [10-8]
  • $15,000 Shymkent, Kazakhstan:
    • (4) Diana Shnaider def. (5) Ekaterina Maldakova, 6-2, 7-5
    • (1) Zhibek Kulambateva/Anastasia Sukhotina def. (2) Ekaterina Maldakova/Ksenia Zaytseva, 6-1, 6-4
  • $15,000 Chiang Rai, Thailand:
    • Luksika Kumkhum def. (Q) Talia Gibson, 6-0, 6-1
    • Catherine Aulia/Talia Gibson def. (2) YeXin Ma/Fang Ying Xun, 6-3, 7-6(5)

Unsurprisingly, Emma Raducanu was named the 2022 Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year winner:

Get to know 2022 Australian Open Girls champion Petra Marcinko, a name who is making big waves on the ITF World Tour.

Tweet of the Week

This needed its own section. Thank you, Pam, for sharing your story.

Five at The IX: NCAA conference champions

We’re approaching one of the best parts of the season: NCAA Tennis Championships! Some conferences have already had their tournament, while some host this week but crowned regular season champions. Here are the Power 5 schools to keep an eye out on:

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon