Iga Swiatek says tennis could have done better ‘from the start’ in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Tennis authorities should have banned Russian and Belarussian players, according to world number one Iga Swiatek.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, players from both countries were barred from competing at Wimbledon in 2022, but they were allowed to compete elsewhere on the ATP and WTA Tours under a neutral flag.
Wimbledon has now changed its mind about hosting the Grand Slam tournament in 2023.
However, Swiatek of Poland believes tennis could have done better “from the start.”
“I heard that after WWII, German players were not allowed as much as Japanese and Italian players, and I feel like this kind of thing would show the Russian government that it might not be worth it,” Swiatek, 21, told the BBC.
“I know it’s a small thing because we’re just athletes, a speck in the world, but I think sport is important, and sport has always been used in propaganda.”
“This was considered at the start, but tennis didn’t really go that way, and now it would be pretty unfair for Russian and Belarusian players to do that because this decision was supposed to be made a year ago.”
Wimbledon officials are still concerned about Russian propaganda.
Swiatek, the top-ranked player in the women’s game, stated that players are “approaching” her for assistance and advice on the issue.
She went on to say that the WTA and ATP showed “lack of leadership” after the war began, leaving tennis in a “chaotic state.”
“I think tennis could do a better job from the start of showing everyone that tennis players are against the war,” Swiatek added.
“I believe they could do more to make that point and express their opinions, as well as help us cope a little better in the locker room because the atmosphere is pretty tense.”