Wimbledon has banned Russian and Belarusian players from the 2022 tournament. (Image: Twitter)
Wimbledon: At least in the beginning, before the tennis ball gets hit, this version of Wimbledon is all about who – and what – is missing like from here. And that’s even with this in mind: It doesn’t matter that a Grand Slam on grass would mark Serena Williams’ return to singles play after one year.
World number one Daniil Medvedev has been banned from competing by the All England Club, along with every other player from Russia and Belarus, due to the war in Ukraine.
“It’s a mistake,” International Tennis Hall of Fame member Martina Navratilova said of the ban.
“What are they supposed to do, leave the country? I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”
The two professional rounds responded by withdrawing their ranking points from Wimbledon, an unprecedented move in a ratings-based sport in many ways. In contrast, some athletes chose not to attend, including 2014 runner-up Eugenie Bouchard and four-time main champion Naomi Osaka.
For others, though, the decision to attend was undoubtedly. This is, after all, Wimbledon, with its unique surface, time-honoured tradition, strong prestige and – let’s face it – tens of millions of prize money.
“It’s definitely hard to grasp that there are no points. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m happy about it. But the cards are dealt. At the end of the day, if I tell my mom I don’t play Wimbledon, she’ll say, ‘Are you crazy?!'” said Frances Tiafoe, the American ranked 24th In the realm of men, “So I’ll go without a doubt.”
“It’s out of everyone’s hands. It’s a tough situation, a crazy time. And it’s not just about you. It’s not why me? A problem.”
There were rumors among players that prize money would also be cut, leading one of them, Fabio Fognini, to joke that he would be grateful for it because – with no rating points available and with less money on offer – he was heading to an island to spend some vacation with his wife, Champion 2015 US Open, Flavia Pennetta, and their young children.
But that turns out to be all – a rumor: The All England Club ended up announcing that it would provide a record total of around £40m ($50m) in compensation to players.
There are other important names that stay away for various reasons.
The women’s champion, Ash Barty, retired in March at the age of 25. And Roger Federer, the eight-time men’s champion, has yet to return from his latest series of knee surgeries. He has not participated in any tournaments since Wimbledon last year. Second seed Alexander Zverev will be sidelined after tearing ligaments in his right ankle at the French Open.
He also went in 2022 at Wimbledon, for the first time in its long history: a day off scheduled for mid-Sunday (so the 13-day tournament becomes a full two-week event).
Ah, but guess who’s back? Yes, Williams, thanks to a wild invite, brought in enough star power to fill the spotlight no matter how long she was in parentheses.
The seven-time All England Club champion — and 23 of all majors, a professional era record — competed in singles in June 2021, when she slipped on Center Court turf and injured her right leg, forcing her to. He stopped in the first set of her first-round match.
Williams made a surprising appearance in doubles with Anas Jabeur on the lawn in Eastbourne this week, but the 40-year-old American won’t play singles until next week.
If Williams can improve on her best serve in the game and move well enough to stay on the points so she can finish it off with her stinging ground kicks, who knows what she will be able to do? In addition, she used to win matches shortly after coming back from long absences.
Rafael Nadal is also planning to play, halfway to the Grand Slam tournaments in the calendar year for the first time after winning the Australian Open in January and the French Open this month. The last title, a 14th in Paris and a men’s 22nd best, came despite chronic pain in his left foot, leaving the 36-year-old Spaniard wondering if he could be at the All England Club – or continue at all. . .
This week will definitely not be short of story lines. The French Open champion and highest-ranked IGA Swetic enters a 35-game winning streak. Novak Djokovic is running for his fourth consecutive title at Wimbledon and his 21st Grand Slam tournament overall, knowing that, as currently, he will not be able to go to the US Open in August because he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19. This marks the centenary of the current Central Court, which first appeared in 1922.
“I’ll be at Wimbledon if my body is ready to be at Wimbledon. That is it. Wimbledon is not a tournament I want to miss,” said Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 champion but missed last year because of his foot.