Wimbledon: Martina Navratilova ‘devastated’ by ban
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The Russian Tennis Federation president has expressed his gratitude to the tennis stars opposing his country’s Wimbledon ban and also took aim at Elina Svitolina. Shamil Tarpischev responded to the Ukrainian tennis star’s comments asking Russian and Belarussian athletes to speak out on the invasion.
Russian sports website MetaRatings quoted Tarpischev blasting the 27-year-old: “There is no need to pay attention [to what Svitolina says], this is not only my opinion, but also what lawyers think. Because of any statement, we [Russian players] can be excluded from some competitions. Now we are playing, everything is fine with us. It’s stupid to react at all. Who is Svitolina? Absolutely nobody.”
The likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have disagreed with the decision from the All-England Club to ban the Russian and Belarusian players following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Tarpischev is grateful for the support for the players unable to participate in the sport’s most prestigious tournament.
“Support from the [tennis] top players is always needed,” he added. “Players and the [Russian] federation are grateful to all of the players who have already come out in defence of our athletes who were not allowed to compete [at Wimbledon].
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“In my opinion, all the top players should support us and thus defend the competitive principle in the tennis world.” Tarpischev’s comments come after Svitolina’s strong views, having struggled seeing her country invaded by Russia, as millions have fled for their lives and citizens sadly losing their lives.
The Olympic bronze medallist stressed the importance of her Russian and Belarusian counterparts knowing and understanding how the war is affecting Ukranians everywhere. “For us, for Ukrainians, it’s very important that they speak out, that they choose which side they take,” she told SNTV.
“We want to know, we want to feel safe about that because if they don’t say their opinion on this, we don’t know if they support their government, if they support the actions of the [Russian] army. I feel they need to speak up about their position. This is very important.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a Grand Slam or another tournament, I feel like every single Russian or Belarussian athlete should take their position so that we know there are no bad people among us.”
At the end of March, the 27-year-old announced that she was taking a temporary break from competition. She cited health problems, including back pain and emotional exhaustion due to the invasion.
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