Defending champion Novak Djokovic has given his thoughts on Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing amid the ongoing war with Ukraine
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The AELTC took the decision to ban players from the two countries, including men’s No.1 Daniil Medvedev, after Russia ’s invasion of Ukraine and, as a result, the ATP removed ranking points from this year’s Championships.
Sergiy Stakhovsky, the former world No 31 from Ukraine, has subsequently called for a complete ban on Russian athletes from all sports. But Djokovic, who faces Soon-woo Kwon on Monday, said: “I have known Sergiy for a long time, he has been my colleague for a long time on the court but also in the council and we have really good relationship.
“I reached out to him and we communicated in the last period. Look, I understand the frustration coming from him and Ukrainian people towards Russia and what is happening.
“And what I can say is that as a child of a war, several wars actually during the ’90s, I know what it feels like being in the position. But on the other hand, I can’t say I fully agree to ban Russian tennis players, Belarusian tennis players, from competing indefinitely.
“I just don’t see how they have contributed to anything that is really happening. I mean, I don’t feel it’s fair.
“They would accept the compromise that they’ve actually had as a situation or circumstances with Olympic Games anyway to play under neutral flag. They deserve to compete.
“They are professional athletes. None of them has supported any war or anything like that. It’s very sensitive. I understand both sides.
“It’s really hard to say what is right, what is wrong. But in my heart as an athlete, putting myself in a position where someone would ban me from playing because of these circumstances, and I have not contributed to that, I wouldn’t think that’s fair.”