John McEnroe, Tim Henman Clash Over Wimbledon’s Ban On Russian, Belarusian Players

Former tennis stars John McEnroe and Tim Henman disagree on Wimbledon’s decision to ban all Russian and Belarusian players from playing in this year’s tournament.

With the ATP and WTA stripping Wimbledon of its ranking points, effectively making the Grand Slam an exhibition, McEnroe said the The All-England Lawn Tennis Club (AETLC) made a mistake in their decision and went after Henman for defending it.

“I’m gonna go after Mr. Henman because I think it was a mistake by Wimbledon to do what they did in the first place, kicking out the Russians and Belarusians,” the seven-time Grand Slam winner said Monday on Eurosport. “I don’t know how they came up with the Belarusians too but that’s a whole other story. In my opinion, compounded by the fact that now the ATP and the WTA say there are now no points, I don’t see how that helps the players. 

“If the players really believe that Wimbledon had made a big mistake by not allowing the Russian and Belarusian players to play, in my opinion, they should have boycotted the tournament. By the way Mr Henman, we could share players’ profits. How about 50/50 with the All-England club now we’re on the subject of that?”

Henman said in response that there were no winners in Wimbledon’s decision, but said it was unrealistic to think officials would go against their own government, which have strongly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Henman added that Wimbledon simply could not jeopardize the safety of players and their families.

“The reality of the situation is there are no winners and I feel enormous sympathy for the Russian and Belarusian players that cannot play,” Henman said. “When you go through the circumstances presented to Wimbledon, the directive from the government is players are not allowed to play as neutral athletes, like on the tour at the moment.

“So the question in return is are Wimbledon expected to turn around, given their status in the UK, and say to the government actually we think we know better so will do something different? Wimbledon are not going to jeopardize the safety of their players or their families, and that’s before you talk about the propaganda of a Russian or Belarusian player receiving the trophy on Centre Court potentially in the second week.”

With the ban in place, that means that Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 ranked player in men’s singles, will be absent from the tournament. Tennis’ signature Grand Slam is set to take place June 27-July 10.

Follow Nick Geddes on Twitter @NickGeddesNews and on Instagram @nick.geddes.  

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Written by Nick Geddes

Nick is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in political science. Nick is a life-long sports fan who is proud to say he suffered through 15 years of Bucs futility to witness a Super Bowl victory in 2020. Nick has a passion for writing and is proud to represent OutKick. Follow me on Twitter @NickGeddesNews and on Instagram @nick.geddes.

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