May 26, 2022

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Stakhovsky backs Wimbledon ban of Russian and Belarusian players

Stakhovsky backs Wimbledon ban of Russian and Belarusian players

kraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky has backed Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players following the invasion of his country.

Stakhovsky retired from tennis earlier this year and has since joined Ukraine’s reserve forces in Kyiv.

The reaction from within the sport to the decision by Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association to bar Russian and Belarusian players from events in Britain because of the war has been negative.

The ATP and WTA are holding meetings to decide how to respond, with the removal of ranking points a possibility.

But Stakhovsky has offered his support to All England Club chiefs.

“I cannot say it was a joyful reaction but it is something I believe should be done,” he told the Mail on Sunday.

“In the first two weeks of the war I was more laid back about it, thinking that every individual should be judged based on their stance, but we know how the Russian troops are behaving in the occupied cities.

“We know what they can do: slaughter, rape, torture. So, I’m sorry, I now have a different view.”

The 36-year-old’s most memorable achievement during a career that peaked at 31 in the rankings came in 2013 when he beat Roger Federer in the second round at Wimbledon.

But tennis now seems far less significant to Stakhovsky, who recently witnessed bloody scenes in Kharkiv and Bucha.

“I hope it hasn’t changed me but I feel perhaps more numb or raw. Those images are going to stay with me for a long period, but I hope I am going to be able to give them up some time,” he said.

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“At first there was fear but it’s strange how you can get used to war, you can get used to everything. You know a rocket can land anywhere in the country.

“I played some tennis in Kharkiv and I could hear bombs exploding. That was different. Professional tennis seems ages away now. It is surreal.”