US Open organizers have revealed they have “seriously considered” copying the Wimbledon ban imposed on Russian and Belarusian players following the invasion of Ukraine. The news comes as the United States Tennis Association announced the sport’s biggest fundraising event for Ukraine, a charity match to be held on the country’s Independence Day, August 24.
The USTA has explained why it did not choose to follow the All England Club’s decision to ban all Russian and Belarusian players from competing at Wimbledon as officials confirmed they had strongly debated their ban from the Wimbledon. next US Open, allowing players like defending champion Daniil Medvedev to play. Instead, they opted to hold a fundraising event in the hopes that players from both nations could be convinced to support a charity match to donate to the efforts in Ukraine.
And the plan has been successful, with the US Open tournament director confirming that two-time Belarusian Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka has accepted her request to join Rafael Nadal and the WTA world No. Iga Swiatek at the event on Ukraine’s Independence Day later this month.
Opening up about her conversation with Azarenka, Stacey Allister told The New York Times, “It was a quick response. She said, “It’s a player’s choice, and I want to play.” “The US Open boss also explained that the USTA decided to allow players from Russia and Belgium to compete because they didn’t want them to be held responsible for the actions of their respective governments.
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But Allaster said the USTA still wants to take advantage of the US Open and the North American Hard Court Swing to raise awareness of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and raise funds to support the country. “You turn on the news now and war is sometimes the fifth or sixth story,” she said.
Allaster also stressed that she and the association did not want to “put undue pressure on any athlete.” Several Russian players – even those who were born in the country but changed allegiance years ago like recent Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina – have chosen to limit their comments on the war out of fear for their safety or that of members. of their families still in the country, and the US Open tournament director added: “We will respect and support any player’s decision.”
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The USTA will donate at least £1.7 million (US$2 million) to GlobalGiving’s Ukraine crisis relief fund and, in addition to the exhibition match, plans to help collect more money throughout the duration of the tournament on the broadcasts and their official site.
Besides Nadal and Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Carlos Alcaraz, Taylor Fritz, Amanda Anisimova, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Matteo Berrettini and John McEroe have all signed up for the exhibition match, which will be played at the US Open venue in Billie Jean King. National Tennis Center in Queens, New York.