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Sabalenka hopes Wimbledon will be ‘more open’ to return of Russian players

World number five Aryna Sabalenka is hoping Wimbledon organisers will be “a bit more open” to the idea of allowing Belarusians and Russians play in the 2023 edition.

The Belarusian, a semi-finalist in the tournament in 2021, was one of several high-ranked players blocked from Wimbledon earlier this year after the All England Club implemented a ban on Russian and Belarusian players in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I think I have zero control on this situation. I’m just sitting and waiting for the decision. And whatever happens, happens,” Sabalenka told AFP at the World Tennis League in Dubai. 

“If they’re going to ban us for another year, okay, whatever, I’m going to have fun at home in Miami, I’m going to spend some time with my family and do another pre-season.

“Whatever they decide, it’s their decision. I don’t care about Wimbledon.”

Asked if she was optimistic the All England Club would reverse its decision, the 24-year-old said: “I really hope that they will be a little bit more open for us. 

“But as last year showed, they are not really happy Belarusians and Russians at their event.”

Last Saturday in Abu Dhabi, British number one Cameron Norrie said he would like to see Russians and Belarusians welcomed back at the Championships.

“For me, I want the best players in the world to be playing,” said the 14th-ranked Norrie, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2022.

“I felt last year was tough for those guys, especially for Daniil (Medvedev) and for Andrey (Rublev), who have a chance of winning Wimbledon; especially as I know how much those guys sacrificed with their careers and their goals are obviously very high to be winning Slams.

“So I really did feel bad for those guys.”

According to British media, a decision from the All England Club regarding the issue is expected to be made by April, with the competition starting on July 3.

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