John McEnroe wants Wimbledon and the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) to lift the ban on players from Russia and Belarus and allow them to compete at the toyrnament this year.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year, the United Kingdom government asked the AELTC not to allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete in the 2022 edition. That was followed by the ATP and WTA cancelling ranking points in the event and imposing a heavy fine on tournament organisers.
With the war still ongoing, the tennis world awaits a decision from the AELTC regarding participation of players from the two nations at this year's Championships. Speaking to Eurosport recently, former World No. 1 McEnroe once again called for the ban to be lifted, saying that he would not support the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players again this year:
“Obviously, this is a horrific situation which is going on in the war, and people deal with it in different ways,” McEnroe said. "I disagreed with it last year that Wimbledon didn’t allow Russian or Belarusian players to play. I would disagree with it this year. I don’t know what they’re going to do."
The seven-time Grand Slam champion added that quite a few top players like Daniil Medvedev, Aryna Sabalenka, Andrey Rublev and Victoria Azarenka belong to the two countries and that they should not be punished for something that's beyond their control.
“It’s a situation that no one wants. So hopefully, something will change that allows the players to play. It happens that in our sport, some of our top male and female players come from those two countries. They shouldn’t, I don’t believe, be punished for something that they have nothing to do with.”
"I have zero control" - Aryna Sabalenka on war and Wimbledon ban
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus won her first Grand Slam title at 2023 Australian Open, beating reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina. When asked about the situation at the grasscourt Major earlier in the tournament, the 24-year-old said that while she's affected, there's nothing she could do:
"I would say that of course it affects me a lot. That was tough, and it's still tough. But I just understand that it's not my fault. Like, I have zero control. If I could do something, of course I would do it, but I cannot do anything," Sabalenka said.
In other tournaments around the world, Russian and Belarusian players are required to participate with a neutral flag. It remains to be seen if Wimbledon follows suit.