Wimbledon 2023 is scheduled to be played in July this year. Ahead of the Grand Slam tournament, All England Club has lifted the ban on Russian and Belarusian players and they can now play as neutral athletes.
According to the rules, the players must sign declarations of neutrality and comply with “appropriate conditions,” including not expressing support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, the players cannot receive funding or sponsorships from the Russian or Belarusian states.
“This was an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted,” All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement.
Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Russian players Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are among the star players who can return.
“We also consider the alignment between the Grand Slams to be increasingly important in the current tennis environment,” the All England Club said.
The same conditions will apply for Lawn Tennis Association tournaments used by players as grass-court warmups for the sport's oldest Grand Slam tournament.
The women's and men's professional tennis tours last year imposed heavy fines on the LTA and threatened to pull its tournaments. The effect of being expelled from the tours, the LTA said, “would be very damaging and far-reaching for the game in our country.”
The ATP and WTA had also responded to last year's ban by not awarding ranking points to Wimbledon.
“There was a strong and very disappointing reaction from some governing bodies in tennis to the position taken by the All England Club and the LTA last year with consequences which, if continued, would be damaging to the interests of players, fans, The Championships, and British tennis," the club said.
In a joint statement, the ATP and WTA said they were satisfied with the outcome.
“It has taken a collaborative effort across the sport to arrive at a workable solution, which protects the fairness of the game. This remains an extremely difficult situation, and we would like to thank Wimbledon and the LTA for their efforts in reaching this outcome, while reiterating our unequivocal condemnation of Russia's war on Ukraine,” the tours said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemned the reversal as “immoral.”
“Has Russia ceased its aggression or atrocities? No, it's just that Wimbledon decided to accommodate two accomplices in crime.
I call on the UK government to deny visas to their players,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter.
The Wimbledon tournament will kick-start on July 3 with the women's final scheduled for July 15 and the men's final on July 16.