Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens said on Sunday she supports the WTA and ATP’s decision to not award ranking points at Wimbledon and stated she had previously hoped « everyone had a fair chance to play. »
The All England Club announced in April it would not allow players from Russia or Belarus to participate in the year’s third Grand Slam because of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, and the tours took subsequent action Friday.
Stephens, a member of the WTA’s Player Council, was asked about the latest development following her first-round win over Jule Niemeier at the French Open.
« I think the decision that was taken was the correct one, » Stephens said. « I think that there [are] a lot of things that happened behind the scenes that the press are not aware of, and I think there has been a lot of mishandling of how everything was handled. We will just go from there.
« I mean, obviously I support our CEO, I support my council, I support the players. The decision that’s been taken obviously wasn’t taken lightly. I think when you are backed into a corner and that’s all you can do, I think that’s why the decision was made, and I support it. »
Stephens said the Player Council had « worked really hard » to try to get the ban reversed to allow the Russian and Belarusian players to participate, but it had been unsuccessful. When asked about the fairness of the decision in regard to players who had substantial ranking points to defend at Wimbledon, she said the stance was more important than the wants of specific individuals.
« I think when you look at the principles and what our tour stands for, discrimination will never be tolerated, » Stephens said. « That’s exactly what’s happening. As long as that’s in play, there is no points, there is no points, but we are not going to pick and choose when that works.
« You have to stand behind your principles and what the tour stands for, and we are one, right? Whatever goes, that’s what goes. »
In a statement released Friday, the ATP said it made the unprecedented move « with great regret and reluctance » but believed it to be necessary.
« The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our tour, » the ATP said in the statement. « The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP ranking system. »
The WTA released a similar statement from chairman and CEO Steve Simon.
« The WTA was founded on the fundamental principle that all players have an equal opportunity to compete based on merit and without discrimination, » Simon said in part.
The International Tennis Federation will also not be granting ranking points for junior and wheelchair players.
Wimbledon is slated to get underway June 27 and conclude on July 10. With the ban in place, current world No. 2 and reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, top-10 players Andrey Rublev and Aryna Sabalenka (who reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2021 ) and two-time major champion Victoria Azarenka are among those not eligible to participate.