World No. 1 Iga Swiatek Believes Russian, Belarusian Players Should Be Banned From Tennis Entirely

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All Russian and Belarusian players were banned from competing at Wimbledon last year, but Iga Swiatek doesn’t believe that was a strict enough punishment. The top-ranked women’s player in the world believes players from both countries should be banned from the sport indefinitely.

Wimbledon 2022 was the first time players were excluded based on their nationality since post-World War Two when German and Japanese players were banned from competing.

Russian and Belarusian players have been competing on professional tours and in other Grand Slams, but under a neutral flag, similar to what the Olympics have done with Russian athletes in the past.

Iga Swiatek would have liked to see all Russian, Belarusian players to be banned from competing. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Swiatek believes banning tennis players – who have nothing to do with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – would make an impact on the war.

“We are just athletes, a little piece in the world, but sport is pretty important and sport has always been used for propaganda … Tennis, from the beginning, could do a bit better in showing everybody that tennis players are against the war,” she told BBC on Wednesday.

“Tennis didn’t really go that way, but now it would be pretty unfair for Russian and Belarusian players to do that because this decision was supposed to be made a year ago.”

“On the other hand, we all have some kind of impact and anything that would help stop the Russian aggression, we should go that way in terms of the decisions the federations are making,” Swiatek continued.

Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka won this year’s Australian Open, a tournament Swiatek lost in during the fourth round. Swiatek was defeated by Elena Rybakina in Australia, who was born in Russia but plays under the Kazakhstan flag.

Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris

Written by Mark Harris

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