LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray said on Wednesday the major would never feel like an ‘exhibition event’ and most people only care who wins after the Grand Slam had its ranking points stripped by the ATP and WTA Tours.
Organisers the All England Lawn Tennis Club took the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players at this year’s grasscourt championships due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a ‘special operation’.
The decision was described as “discriminatory” by the ATP and WTA and they moved to remove ranking points for the event.
On Monday four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka said she was considering missing Wimbledon because of the lack of ranking points which she said reduced her motivation to enter and made it feel ‘more like an exhibition’
Others have voiced their concerns, but Murray said the prestige of Wimbledon would not be affected.
“I follow golf very closely and have no idea how many ranking points the winner of the @TheMasters gets. Me and my friends love football and none of us know or care how many ranking points a team gets for winning the @FIFAWorldCup,” the three-time Grand Slam winner said on Twitter.
“But I could tell you exactly who won the World Cup and the Masters. I’d hazard a guess that most people watching on Centre Court @Wimbledon in a few weeks time wouldn’t know or care about how many ranking points a player gets for winning a third round match.
“But I guarantee they will remember who wins. @Wimbledon will never be an exhibition and will never feel like an exhibition. The end.”
The banning of Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s championships was the only viable option under the guidance provided by the British government, the AELTC said last month when announcing its decision.
It means players such as U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev and former world number one Victoria Azarenka will not take part in the major which begins next month.
The stripping of ranking points also denies players the chance to defend the points they earned at last year’s Wimbledon, likely meaning that Novak Djokovic will lose his ATP number one ranking.
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; editing by Martyn Herman)