The oldest Grand Slam, one of the four most important tennis tournaments in the year, has been rendered pointless.
Recently, the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which runs Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarusian players from the 2022 tournament. In response, the ATP and WTA, the player unions for the mens’ and womens’ games, responded by removing the 2000 points that Wimbledon is usually worth.
In tennis, each tournament is worth a certain number of points. For example, usually, a Grand Slam is worth 2000 points. Meaning, the winner gets 2000, runner up gets 1200, etc. The world rankings are determined by the number of points each player has from the last 52 weeks, which is why Grand Slams are such a big deal. Even getting through the first few rounds of the tournament can earn a player more points than winning other tournaments.
So why exactly did the ATP and WTA remove the points in response to Wimbledon’s decision to bar Russian and Belarusian players? Both organizations exist to manage the professional tours and protect the players, and to them, Wimbledon’s decision was discrimination, as players were being barred purely because of their nationality. A statement from the ATP says, “The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our Tour. The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP Ranking system.” (https://www.atptour.com/en/news/atp-statement-removal-of-ranking-points-wimbledon-2022).
The real question is: did Wimbledon do the right thing? According to them, yes. A statement of their own said, “given the position taken by the UK Government to limit Russia’s global influence, which removed automatic entry by ranking, and the widespread response of Government, industry, sport and creative institutions, we remain of the view that we have made the only viable decision for Wimbledon as a globally renowned sporting event and British institution, and we stand by the decision we have made.” (https://www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/news/articles/2022-05-20/statement_regarding_atp_wta_itf_ranking_points_at_the_championships.html). But the British government gave informal guidance, not mandated rules. Meaning that they could’ve chosen to allow Russian and Belarusian players to play under a neutral flag like most other tournaments are doing.
Both sides have remained strong in their decisions, and players are expressing their thoughts regarding the situation. Four-time Grand Slam winner, Naomi Osaka, said the tournament now feels more like an exhibition and is questioning whether she’ll play or not. Rafael Nadal called it unfair, and Novak Djokovic called it crazy. For Djokovic, the stakes are high. Currently, he’s World No.1, but if he is unable to retain the 2000 points that he won at Wimbledon last year, he’ll lose his spot.
Interestingly, the man who will then become No.1, is Daniil Medvedev, who is Russian. Isn’t that ironic?