Andy Murray refuses to back Wimbledons Russia ban and hits out at the Government
Wimbledon: Martina Navratilova ‘devastated’ by ban
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Andy Murray has declined to back the Wimbledon ban on Russian and Belarusian players – and criticised the government for giving the All England Club no choice.
But the former world No.1 stressed the unprecedented action was taken because people are “getting murdered and killed and raped” in Ukraine.
The All England Club member said: “It’s an unbelievably complex situation. I don’t think there’s a right answer. I don’t support one side or the other. I’m not supportive of players getting banned.”
Rafa Nadal called the ban “unfair” while fellow superstar Novak Djokovic compared the exclusion to his January deportation from Australia. “Going through something similar earlier this year for myself, it’s frustrating knowing that you’re not able to play,” said the world No.1.
But speaking before his first claycourt match for 18 months against Dominic Thiem at the Madrid Masters today (mon), the Scot’s voice trembled with emotion as he gave a more nuanced view.
“I have spoken to some of the Russian players, I’ve spoken to some of the Ukrainian players,” said the double Wimbledon champion. “I feel really bad for the players who aren’t allowed to play and I get that it will seem unfair obviously to them. I’m friendly and close with some of them and I feel bad for them.
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“But I also know some of the people who work at Wimbledon as well. They do care about the players. I think that the guidance from the government was not helpful because my understanding of the guidance was that Russians and Belarusians can play if they sign a declaration that they’re against the war and against the Russian regime.
“I’m not sure how comfortable I would feel if that was a decision that was taken because if something happened to one of the players or their families, that’s obviously not good either.”
But Murray added: “People are forgetting about the reasons for why Wimbledon or tennis or sports are in this situation, and it’s because there is a war going on in Ukraine and that there is people getting murdered and killed and raped. That’s the bigger picture.
“So it’s a really, really difficult one. I feel for Wimbledon, I feel for the players and I feel for everyone that’s affected by it in Ukraine and around the world.”
The world No.81 is playing here for the first time since 2017 after originally deciding to skip the entire claycourt season to get ready for grass. Wildcard Jack Draper beat world No.27 Lorenzo Sonego 6-4 6-3 while Dan Evans saw off Federico Delbonis 6-3 6-4.
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