The Wimbledon ban on Russian and Belarusian players has provoked a sharp reaction from Australian veteran John Milman, as grass-court Grand Slam discussions have intensified around Roland-Garros.
Rankings for arguably the most prestigious tournaments in the tennis calendar have split the game by omission, where conflict and lack of direction have left players frustrated.
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Millman, a member of the ATP Players’ Council, said in a statement that the decision to ban Russian players was taken without due process. He said tennis authorities contacted the players a week after the ban took effect.
He called on the UK government to clarify their relationship with Wimbledon and to take “forced” action against tournament officials.
“I heard whispers, ‘Oh, it’s coming from the government,'” Millman said.
“If it comes from the government, tell the British government ‘no, we’re banning them, we don’t want them to play’.
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“Then I would be sorry for Wimbledon being pushed into a corner.
Millman added: “I will be as honest and open as possible. The Russia-Ukraine conflict is terrible. My heart hurts for the people of Ukraine (and) for the Ukrainian players.”
“I hate all conflicts. But, also, I don’t like unilateral decisions. The Russians (and) the Belarusians had a chance to play.
“There were two options – recommendations, not even legislation – but recommendations from the UK government.”
Millman is not unfamiliar with the Wimbledon controversy and last month suggested that the All England club should donate to this year’s profit-fighting effort, instead expelling players because of their country of origin. The 32-year-old’s opinion provoked a heated reaction from Ukrainian player Marta Kostyuk, who said it was a “very selfish” attitude.
After being knocked out of the first round by the rising American Sebastian Cordar at Roland-Garros, Millman plans to play at Wimbledon, although it is described as a glorious show.
“I’m getting older and probably don’t have much of a chance to do it, so I think I will. But maybe I’m going to be banned from saying these things,” he said.
“I mean, you can, don’t you? I’ve had problems from the beginning – unilateral decisions – that’s the problem.”
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