Russian and Belarusian players have been banned from Wimbledon ©Getty Images

Russian and Belarusian players have been banned from competing at Wimbledon, the All England Club has confirmed.

Russian and Belarusian players have been able to play on the Women's Tennis Association and Association of Tennis Professionals Tours as neutral players up until this point, under tennis' response to the invasion of Ukraine.

However, they will now be ruled out of the third Grand Slam of the year.

The All England Club and the Committee of Management said it had carefully considered the situation in the "context of our duties to the players, to our community and to the broader UK public as a British sporting institution".

Guidance from the UK Government was also a consideration in the decision, the organisation confirmed.

"On behalf of the All England Club and the Committee of Management of The Championships, we wish to express our ongoing support for all those impacted by the conflict in Ukraine during these shocking and distressing times.

"Given the profile of The Championships in the United Kingdom and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of Government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible.

"In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships.

"It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022."

Aryna Sabalenka reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon last year, but will be unable to compete at the Grand Slam this season ©Getty Images
Aryna Sabalenka reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon last year, but will be unable to compete at the Grand Slam this season ©Getty Images

The All England Club's decision will rule our Russia's Daniil Medvedev and compatriot Andrey Rublev, the world numbers two and eight, respectively.

Both men have both called for peace following the invasion of Ukraine.

Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka is the highest player in the women's rankings to be impacted.

The world number four reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year.

"We recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime," said Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club.

"We have very carefully considered the alternative measures that might be taken within the UK Government guidance but, given the high-profile environment of The Championships, the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at The Championships."

UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston had announced last month that athletes from Russia and Belarus would have to prove that they are "genuinely independent and neutral" to participate in sporting events in Britain.

This would have involved athletes signing a written declaration.

Huddleston has welcomed the action taken by the All England Club, which has also been followed by the Lawn Tennis Association.

The Sports Minister acknowledged the impact on individual athletes would "divide opinion".

"The UK has taken a leading role internationally to make clear that President Putin must not be able to use sport to legitimise Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine," Huddleston said.

"Whilst the withdrawal of individual athletes is a complex issue that will divide opinion, there is a bigger cause at stake.

"We have set out our position with sport governing bodies and event organisers and will continue to encourage them to take appropriate action for their sport."

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has claimed the decision it “unfair” and will assess the move in consultation with their board.

“We believe that today’s unilateral decision by Wimbledon and the LTA to exclude players from Russia and Belarus from this year’s British grass-court swing is unfair and has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game,” the ATP said.

“Discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of our agreement with Wimbledon that states that player entry is based solely on ATP Rankings.

“Any course of action in response to this decision will now be assessed in consultation with our Board and Member councils.

“It is important to stress that players from Russia and Belarus will continue to be allowed to compete at ATP events under a neutral flag, a position that has until now been shared across professional tennis.

“In parallel, we will continue our joint humanitarian support for Ukraine under Tennis Plays for Peace.”

As a Russian, US Open champion Daniil Medvedev has been banned from Wimbledon ©Getty Images
As a Russian, US Open champion Daniil Medvedev has been banned from Wimbledon ©Getty Images

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina released a statement earlier today, which called for tennis authorities to take a strong position against Russia and Belarusian athletes.

The statement began with the Ginetta Sagan quote "silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the presser", with fellow Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk among players to share the stance

"As athletes we live a life in the public eye and therefore have an enormous responsibility," Svitolina wrote.

"Some of our posts and opinions on social media reach an audience larger than those of regional television stations.

"In times of crisis, silence means agreeing with what is happening.

"We noticed that some Russian and Belarusian players at some point vaguely mentioned the war, but never clearly stating that Russia and Belarus started it on territory of Ukraine.

"The very silence of those who choose to remain that way right

"Is unbearable as it leads to the continuation of murder in our homeland."

Svitolina demanded tennis governing bodies ask players from Russia and Belarus whether they support the invasion and military activities in Ukraine, as well as whether they support Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.

"If applicable, we demand to exclude and ban any Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in any events," Svitolina added.

"In times of crisis, silence means agreeing with what is happening.

"There comes a time when silence is betrayal, and that time is now."