Wimbledon has banned Russian and Belarusian players from the 2022 tournament. (Photo: Twitter)
Wimbledon: At least initially, before hitting the tennis ball, this version of Wimbledon is about who – and what – is missing like who is here. And he’s keeping this in mind, too: It’s no small thing that the grass-court Grand Slam tournament marks Serena Williams’ return to singles play after a year.
World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev was barred from competing by the All England Club, along with every other player from Russia and Belarus, due to the war in Ukraine.
International Tennis Hall of Fame member Martina Navratilova said of the ban, “It’s a mistake.”
“What should they do, leave the country? I don’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
The two professional tours responded by pulling their ranking points from Wimbledon, an unprecedented move in a sport built in many ways around rankings. In turn, some athletes opted not to show up, including 2014 runner-up Eugenie Bouchard and four-time major champion Naomi Osaka.
For others, however, it was an undoubted decision to show up. It is, after all, Wimbledon, with its unique surface and long-standing traditions, its mighty reputation and – let’s face it – tens of millions in prize money.
“It’s definitely hard to swallow that’s no points. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m happy with it. But the cards are dealt. At the end of the day, if I tell my mom I’m going to Wimbledon I’m not playing, she’ll say, are you crazy?!’ So I’m going to go, no doubt about it,” said Frances Tiafo, an American who is seeded 24th in the men’s field.
“It’s out of everyone’s hands. It’s a tough situation, a crazy time. And it’s not just about you. Why isn’t it me?” Problem.”
There were rumors among players that prize money would also be cut, one, prompting Fabio Fognini to joke that he would be grateful for it because – without any ranking points and with little cash on offer – he would head over. An island for some vacation with his wife, 2015 US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, and their young children.
But it turns out that was all – a rumour: The All England Club announced it would offer a record total of around £40 million ($50 million) in player compensation.
There are many more names that are away for different reasons.
Defending women’s champion Ash Barty retired in March at the age of 25. Eight-time men’s champion Roger Federer still hasn’t returned from the latest in a series of knee operations; He has not participated in any tournament since last year’s Wimbledon. Number two Alexander Zverev has been sidelined at the French Open after tearing a ligament in his right ankle.
Wimbledon also went to 2022 for the first time in its long history: a designated day on Middle Sunday (so what was a 13-day tournament became a full two-week event).
Ah, but guess who’s back? Yep, Williams, thanks to a wild-card invite, brings enough star power to make headlines no matter how long she’s in the bracket.
The All England club owner of seven championships – and 23 of all majors, a record for the professional era – last competed in singles in June 2021, when she slipped on the slick center court grass and injured her right leg. which he was compelled to do. Stop in the first set of your first round match.
Williams made a surprise appearance in doubles with Ons Jaboor on the grass at Eastbourne this week, but the 40-year-old American will not play singles until next week.
If Williams can crank out her best-in-game serve and move far enough to stay in the points until she can finish them off with her stinging groundstrokes, who knows. What would you be able to do? Also, he has made a habit of winning matches soon after returning from a long absence.
Also planning to play is Rafael Nadal, who is halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam for the first time since winning the Australian Open in January and the French Open this month. The latter title, his 14th in Paris and a men’s best 22nd in the Major, came despite chronic pain in his left leg, which left the 36-year-old Spaniard questioning whether he could be – or continue – at the All England Club. ,
There will certainly be no shortage of story this fortnight. French Open champion and top-ranked Inga Swietec entered a 35-match winning streak. Novak Djokovic bids for a fourth consecutive championship at Wimbledon and 21st Grand Slam trophy overall, knowing as things currently stand, he will not be able to attend the US Open in August because he has not been vaccinated for COVID-19 Is. And this current center marks the centenary of the Court, which made its debut in 1922.
“If my body is ready to go to Wimbledon then I’m going to Wimbledon. That’s it. Wimbledon is not a tournament I want to miss,” said Nadal, champion in 2008 and 2010, but last year Absent because of his leg. “No one wants to miss Wimbledon.”