Behind the glitz and glamour of Wimbledon, political controversy over Russian, Belarusian players

“I didn’t even realize how important this place is to me until now…” Savalenka’s voice was a little hoarse, whether from emotion or nerves.

Arina Savalenka (Belarus), the No. 2 seed in the women’s singles event, is playing at Wimbledon for the first time in two years. Last year, players from Russia and Belarus were banned. This year, however, Russian and Belarusian players were allowed to compete at Wimbledon. However, the players had to sign a pledge not to represent their countries and not to receive any support from the state or state-owned enterprises.

As part of the pledge, world No. 12 Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) is not wearing a sponsor patch from oil company Tatneft, which she received two years ago. Tatneft has been sanctioned by the EU for supplying the Russian military.

At the last French Open, Savalenka was asked by Ukrainian reporters to clarify her relationship with President Lukashenko and her position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As a result, Savalenka hasn’t held a press conference at Wimbledon. Her reasoning was that she felt her life was in danger, and the tournament organizers acknowledged this.

Before the start of Wimbledon, Sabalenka said, “I don’t comment on political issues. If you want to know my opinion, please refer to my press conferences from previous tournaments 토토사이트추천.”

She was referring to her post-French Open quarterfinal press conference. In it, Savalenka went one step further than her generalized statement that “no one wants war” and specifically said, “I don’t want war.” When asked if he supported Lukashenko, he replied, “I don’t want war. Lukashenko is supporting the war, so I can’t support Lukashenko now.”

When asked for his views on the matter, Dmitry Medvedev (Russia) said, “I can’t speak for anyone. I don’t like to force anyone to speak their mind. If I talk about my personal thoughts, I always want peace.”

Meanwhile, when asked “Do you think it’s a top player’s responsibility to clarify their position on the Russian aggression,” the No. 1 female player, Iga Sibiontek (POL), said, “I think so. I always think it’s a big responsibility (for us). Someone has to take leadership and make it clear where we stand on this war and who we should support. The situation that the tennis world is in right now is not very healthy. Ukrainian players are in a very difficult situation, and I don’t feel that the tennis world is actively moving on this issue. I think there are more important things than playing tennis,” he said, making his opinion clear.

On the ground at Wimbledon, fan reaction to the Russian and Belarusian players has been favorable. It’s no secret that sports and politics are inextricably linked. For the first time in two years, the bright lights of Wimbledon will be lit by Russian and Ukrainian players, and there is a lot of speculation and political judgment behind the scenes.

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