Tennis legend Billie Jean King calls for Wimbledon to end the ban on Russian and Belarusian stars


Tennis legend Billie Jean King calls for Wimbledon to end the ban on Russian and Belarusian stars… just as the Australian Open faces the prospect of an all-Belarus women’s singles final

Billie Jean King has called for Wimbledon to drop its player ban this summer, just as the Australian Open faces the prospect of an all-Belarus women’s final. 

Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka will be in opposite semi-finals, a situation that might focus the minds of SW19 officials as they ponder whether to allow those from Belarus and Russia in for 2023.

The suspension saw the tours strip Wimbledon of ranking points, and the expectation is that the All England Club will back down in the coming weeks to head off a repetition.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King calls for Wimbledon to drop ban on Russian and Belarusian stars

Aryna Sabalenka is the Australian Open favourite

Victoria Azarenka could be her opponent in the final

Aryna Sabalenka (left) and Victoria Azarenka (right) could set up an all-Belarus women’s final at the Australian Open in Melbourne

Moscow-born Elena Rybakina, who represents Kazakhstan, is going for her second Grand Slam title when she meets Azarenka.

King, speaking at an event to mark her founding of the WTA, believes that despite the ongoing war in Ukraine there should not be a bar on unflagged individuals.

‘I hope they do (rescind it), just keep it the same way the other ones are. Life is too short,’ said King. 

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Sabalenka (pictured) is arguably favourite to win the Open and break her Grand Slam duck

‘We are a platform to have discussions on this, though. I think it’s important.

‘It’s the ranking points, for sure. They have to have them. Rybakina, they’ve seeded her 25th, but because she won Wimbledon, she’s not (where she should be).’

She was talking prior to the scenes in the evening, when a flag bearing Vladimir Putin’s face was waved in the grounds, the kind of thing Wimbledon dreads.

The All England Club has a new Chair-elect in Debbie Jevans, who is in Melbourne to speak with her counterparts at the top of the sport’s fractured governance structure.

The All England Club has a new Chair-elect in Debbie Jevans, who is currently in Melbourne

The All England Club has a new Chair-elect in Debbie Jevans, who is currently in Melbourne

As King pointed out, all these issues would be more easily sorted out if there was one Commissioner in charge.

Sabalenka will play against Magda Linette of Poland, the world number 45 and very much the outsider. 

Coached by the English duo of Nick Gellard and Iain Hughes, she defeated former Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova 6-3 7-5.

It is yet another tournament emphasising the quality of players from Eastern Europe, and the risk Wimbledon runs of hosting those from Russia and Belarus, certainly in terms of the trophies being held aloft on the Centre Court.





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