The war in Ukraine and the plight of its tennis players must be at the forefront of discussions at Wimbledon, not the Grand Slam’s decision to reverse its ban on Russian and Belarusian players, former world No. 1 Andy Murray said.
Wimbledon was the only Grand Slam to ban competitors from Russia and its ally Belarus in 2022 after the invasion, which Moscow calls a “special operation,” but has said they could return as neutrals this year.
“What’s really important is to continue to talk about what’s happening in Ukraine now, not focusing on a few tennis players and a few athletes who may or may not be able to play major sporting events,” Murray told the Tennis Majors website.
“It’s a difficult decision for Wimbledon. The rest of sport had gone in a completely different direction to them, which made it hard. But I don’t think this should be so much about that.
“It’s distracting a little bit from actually what’s taking place. You don’t want that to happen. You want the actual issue to be at the forefront of all of these discussions.”
Several Ukrainian players have spoken about how difficult it is to continue competing while their country is at war.
“I’ve seen some of the female players have spoken out about how difficult they found it and maybe felt like they could have had more support through that,” Murray said.
“You need to understand their perspective as well, and not just the players that weren’t allowed to play last year.
“There are Ukrainian players whose families [are affected] and they’re going through unbelievably difficult times. That’s what’s important.”