World No 8 Andrey Rublev slams Wimbledon ban against players from Russia and Belarus at this year’s Championships.
Rublev believes the decision will only “incite hatred” and threatened legal action to have the sanction overturned.
“The reasons they (Wimbledon) gave us had no sense, they were illogical,” said Rublev on the sidelines of the Belgrade ATP event.
“What is happening now is complete discrimination against us.”
On Wednesday, Wimbledon became the first tournament to ban all Russian and Belarusian players from taking part in this year’s Grand Slam event in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
The decision means Rublev as well as compatriot and World No 2 Daniil Medvedev and WTA World No 4 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus will have to sit out the June 27-July 10 tournament.
“Banning Russian or Belarusian players….will not change anything,” added Rublev, who said redirecting Wimbledon’s prize fund, which last year totalled £35 million ($45.6 million), would have a more positive effect.
“To give all the prize money to humanitarian help, to the families who are suffering, to the kids who are suffering, I think that would do something.
“Tennis will, in that case, be the first and only sport who donates that amount of money and it will be Wimbledon so they will take all the glory.”
Ukraine’s top female player Elina Svitolina said that Russian and Belarusian players who do speak out against the invasion “should be allowed” to compete at Wimbledon.
“We don’t want them banned completely,” former world number three Svitolina, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2019, told the BBC.
“If players don’t speak out against the Russian government then it is the right thing to ban them.”
“We just want them to speak up, if they are with us and the rest of the world or the Russian government. If they didn’t choose, they didn’t vote for this government, then it’s fair they should be allowed to play and compete.”
At the Dubai tournament in February, Rublev had scribbled “No war please” on a courtside TV camera after a victory.
At the moment, players representing Russia and Belarus are allowed to take part in ATP and WTA events but are barred from competing under the name or flag of their countries.
Their national teams have, however, been banned from the Davis Cup and BJK Cup competitions.
World number one Novak Djokovic hit out at the “crazy” decision by Wimbledon.
“The players, the tennis players, the athletes have nothing to do with it (war). When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good,” Djokovic had said on Wednesday.