Ahead of Wimbledon 2022, Russian player avoids ban by changing nationality: Report
Ahead of Wimbledon 2022, a Russian player -- Natela Dzalamidze -- has undergone a change in her nationality to avoid a ban. For the unversed, the Wimbledon organisers, the All England Club had announced in April, that players from Russia and Belarus would be barred from competing this year in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Nonetheless, an All England Club spokesman revealed to The Times that they were powerless to interfere in Dzalamidze's change of nationality (to Georgian). He mentioned that as this was a matter for the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the All England Club couldn't do much about it whereas Dzalamidze had even satisfied all her entry requirements. "Player nationality, defined as the flag they play under at professional events, is an agreed process that is governed by tours and the ITF," the spokesman said.
After her nationality change, Dzalamidze will gear up to take part in the women's doubles with Serbian partner Aleksandra Krunic, when the tournament kicks off on June 27.
The ban of Russian and Belarus players from the iconic tournament was a big announcement. It made heads turn and led to a widespread reaction in the tennis world, with the WTA and the ATP going ahead and stripping the marquee tournament of ranking points. So far, no other Grand Slam tournaments have taken such a big step with the US Open recently announcing that Russia and Belarus players will be able to participate in the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year under a neutral flag.
Following the criticism of the ban, two All England Club officials had even defended the decision during a news conference, saying that the "intensely tough and agonising decision" to restrict players from Russia and Belarus from Wimbledon this year was carried out only due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Citing the club’s “responsibility to play our part in limiting the possibility of Wimbledon being used to justify the harm being done to others by the Russian regime,” Chief Executive Sally Bolton said, “we believe that this decision is the only viable option for Wimbledon.”
While all eyes are on the marquee event to commence next week, Wimbledon's ban will see some big-ticket players missing out, such as world number 1 Daniil Medvedev as well as two-time major winner 32-year-old Victoria Azarenka.