Wimbledon organisers could face a legal challenge after banning Russian and Belarusian players, according to sports lawyers.
Daniil Medvedev and Aryna Sabalenka are among the leading contenders set to miss out following the All England Club’s (AELTC) decision.
The men’s ATP Tour has criticised the move, while the women’s WTA Tour previously said it would not agree with banning Russian and Belarusian players when they are not formally representing their countries.
“Players who are banned by the AELTC from participating may seek to argue they are being deprived not only of potential prize money but also world ranking points that can have a knock on effect with season ending bonuses, entry into such events as the Tour Finals and sponsor bonuses,” said Stephen Taylor Heath, Head of Sports Law at JMW Solicitors.
“The players’ arguments would be enhanced by the argument Wimbledon’s position is out of step with other majors and the ATP or WTA itself.”
The French Open, which takes place in May a few weeks before Wimbledon, is expected to accept Russian and Belarusian players.
But Wimbledon’s position is strengthened by the backing of the UK government, which has been at the forefront of efforts to isolate Russia and Belarus from sporting competitions over the former’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Ultimately any legal challenge would likely be undermined by the AELTC arguing that they are acting within their powers under the constitution of the event and any player wishing to participate has to abide by the event’s constitution,” Taylor Heath added.
“It is difficult to see how the decision breaches UK law on discrimination grounds or otherwise.
“They may face the ATP/WTA evaluating their status as a major and ranking tournament. In reality, however, such a move is unlikely given the current political landscape, particularly as their stance would appear to have government support.”