Rafael Nadal deemed Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from taking part in the Championships as “unfair”, the Spanish tennis legend told reporters in Madrid on Sunday.
The 21-time major winner believes the All England Club chose “the most drastic option”, and hopes the tours can find a way to interfere with the ban.
Wimbledon has been heavily criticised by both the ATP and WTA as well as players like Nadal’s great rival Novak Djokovic for implementing the ban due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Belarus is deemed an ally of Russia and permitted Russian troops to invade Ukraine from across their border.
The ban rules out a swathe of talented players including men’s world number two Daniil Medvedev and last year’s Wimbledon semi-finalist Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
“It’s unfair for my Russian colleagues,” said Nadal.
“In that sense, it’s not their fault what’s happening at this moment with the war.
“I’m sorry for them. I wish it was not this way, but at the end of the day we know that this is what we have.”
Nadal, who is returning to play competitively after a six-week hiatus due to a rib injury, said it may fall upon him and his fellow players to take a stand.
“As a fellow player, what can I say? I feel sorry for them,” said the 35-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion.
“I wish this was not the case.
“Let’s see what happens in the coming weeks and let’s see if we as players need to take a stand.
“There is something wrong.”
Nadal criticised Wimbledon for going beyond their remit.
“When a government orders something, you need to follow the rules,” he said.
“In this case, the government issued a recommendation and Wimbledon decided to impose the most drastic option without being forced to do so.”
The Grand Slams are independent of the ATP and WTA but the tours grant them ranking points, which could be withheld if an agreement is not reached on the matter.
“We know that Slams are outside the ATP, but as ATP we grant them the most points of all events,” said Nadal.
“They are the most important. The 2,000 points, whenever we go to the Grand Slams, they are really important and we have to go to those tournaments.”
“So we will have to see the measures that we take, and it’s a very unfair thing for them, for sure.”
Nadal said obviously in the greater scheme of things tennis was secondary to the daily misery being experienced by the Ukrainians.
“At the end of the day, what happens in our game doesn’t have any importance when we can see so many people dying and suffering and seeing the bad situation they are having in Ukraine,” he said.
“It is very serious.”
Nadal is seeded number three in Madrid and opens his campaign against the winner of the first-round clash between Alexander Bublik and Miomir Kecmanovic.