Russian former world No 1 hits out at Wimbledon as LTA hit with hefty fine over player ban

A retired Russian tennis player has responded after the LTA received a £822,000 ($1 million) fine from the ATP in response to their ban on Russian and Belarusian players from this summer’s pre-Wimbledon tournaments. The British tennis governing body was also threatened with expulsion if the ban was repeated in 2023, and former world No 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov has now hit out at Wimbledon as he backed the ATP’s decision.

The LTA has been hit with a hefty fine from the ATP after banning Russian and Belarusian players from competing in their grass court tournaments over the summer. The governing body of tennis in Britain followed in the All England Club’s footsteps with the decision with players from the two nations also barred from playing at Wimbledon.

The £822k ($1 million) fine was made up of £164k ($200k) for every tournament staged at ATP Tour and Challenger level over the summer – Queen’s, Eastbourne, Surbiton, Nottingham and Ilkley and came months after the WTA also sanctioned the LTA with a £617k ($750k) bill, which the body has appealed.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kafelnikov has since responded to the news and claimed that the All England Club and the LTA had stopped themselves from enjoying top Russian players competing in Britain earlier this year. “The fact that Wimbledon decided not to allow Russian and Belarusian tennis players in the summer is their problem,” he told Sport24.

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“We have brilliant tennis players and they have limited themselves to good athletes in the tournament.” The 48-year-old also expected the LTA to appeal the fine as they did with their bill from the WTA, and remained vague on the final outcome.

Kafelnikov added: “Of course, [the LTA] will appeal this fine from the ATP. Let’s see how everything goes, but [the LTA] created problems for itself.” The governing body released a statement on Wednesday confirming they would consider which course of action to take, while still waiting for the result of their appeal over their sanctions from the women’s tour.

The LTA is deeply disappointed with this outcome,” it read. “The ATP, in its finding, has shown no recognition of the exceptional circumstances created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or the international sporting community and UK Government’s response to that invasion. 

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“The ATP appear to regard this matter as a straightforward breach of their rules – with a surprising lack of empathy shown for the situation in Ukraine, and a clear lack of understanding of the unique circumstances the LTA faced.

“The financial impact of both this fine and the WTA’s fine will have a material impact on the LTA’s ability to develop and host tennis in this country. For example, we had intended to host a number of ATP Challenger level events to give more opportunities to lower ranked players in the first quarter of 2023 and will now not be able to do this, particularly given the possibility of further fines.

“We will carefully consider our response and we await the outcome of our appeal against the WTA’s decision and sanction.”


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