Retired Ukraine tennis star Alexandr Dolgopolov on Monday blasted tennis bosses for “lacking courage” in their failure to take a stand and ban Russian players from tournaments.
“I’ve told the ATP: tennis has a very cowardly attitude today,” the 33-year-old, who has returned home to defend his native city Kyiv from the Russian invasion, told French radio RTL.
“They (organisers) lack courage, above all they don’t want to assume the eventual consequences,” he continued.
“Frankly it’s not enough to say ‘We’re against the war’.”
Dolgopolov won three ATP titles in his career, climbing to a career high rank of 13 in 2012. His playing career ended in May 2021 after a recurring wrist injury.
But tournaments and Grand Slams are far from his mind now as he learns how to use arms to defend his country.
“Seriously worrying about Roland-Garros today is a joke. It’s not (more) important than the lives of thousands of people,” he said.
“I think the world of tennis make decisions which lack courage. Russia must be banned from everything that is organised by the free world.
“Because to say: ‘I am against war’, is insufficient. Their athletes must condemn their government, recognise that these are mass murders.
“If they take a neutral stance … it’s like they’re saying ‘Leave me, I live my life in my corner, I don’t want to be involved, I just want to play tennis’.
“This position is not tenable today, sorry.
“Every Russian person must pay the price for this aggression.”
Meanwhile Dolgopolov said he regretted not learning how to handle weapons earlier.
“I had tried shooting once in my life. Clearly it’s not my thing, but now I regret it,” he confessed.
“Now I know how to shoot. Of course I’m not a sniper, but I can shoot someone, for sure.”