Russian tennis player to play at Wimbledon after switching nationality

Posted by Olly Roberts | a week ago

Give Me Sport Natela Dzalamidze

Russian-born tennis player Natela Dzalamidze has avoided being banned from Wimbledon by changing her nationality to Georgian. 

According to The Times, the 29-year-old, who is ranked 44th in women’s doubles, will compete alongside Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic at the All England Club this summer. 

Wimbledon organisers announced in April that players from Russia and Belarus would not be permitted to compete at this year’s championships amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. 

But a spokesperson for the All England Club told The Times that there was nothing they could do to prevent Dzalamidze from changing her nationality and that she has now satisfied the entry requirements. 

“Player nationality, defined as the flag they play under at professional events, is an agreed process that is governed by tours and the ITF,” they said. 

Controversy over rulings 

Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players has divided opinions, with many stressing the ruling is unfair. 

Novak Djokovic, who is the defending champion in the men’s singles at the All England Club, described the decision as “crazy” and said sport should not interfere with politics. 

“I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is crazy,” he stressed. “The players, the tennis players, the athletes have nothing to do with it [war]. When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good.” 

Meanwhile, Martina Navratilova, who was stripped of her citizenship from Czechoslovakia and became a US citizen in 1981, said she was “devastated” when she heard the news. 

 “Exclusion is not the way to go,” she said. “And as much as I feel for the Ukrainian players and Ukrainian people, I think this is just going further than [the AELTC] needed to be going, quite frankly. I think it’s the wrong decision.

“It’s unfair to the whole world. There’s so much bad going on. I think this is not helpful. I understand the banning of teams, of course, but on an individual level, I just think it’s wrong.”

The ATP and WTA also opposed Wimbledon’s decision and responded by getting rid of ranking points for the competition this year. 

As a result, some players have chosen not to play in the event, including Naomi Osaka and former finalist Eugenie Bouchard. 

Wimbledon gets underway on June 27th and will run until July 10th.

Source: Give Me Sport


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