The tennis players will not be allowed to compete at Wimbledon this year due to Moscow's attack on Ukraine, according to a report. Kremlin rejected the ban as unacceptable.
Wimbledon has banned Russian and Belarusian players from the 2022 tournament in response to Russian attack on Ukraine.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club, which runs Wimbledon, said on Wednesday they were acting to "limit Russia's global influence through the strongest means possible".
Russian men's world number two Daniil Medvedev and Belarusian female world number four Aryna Sabalenka – a Wimbledon semi-finalist last year – are the leading players affected by the ban.
"In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players," an AELTC statement said on Wednesday.
"It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to Wimbledon."
The Lawn Tennis Association has also banned Russian or Belarusian players from competing in British grass-court tournaments, including Wimbledon warm-up events at Queen's Club and Eastbourne.
Others hit by the ban are Russia's Andrey Rublev, who is currently eighth in the ATP rankings, while his compatriot Karen Khachanov is in 26th place.
Russian world number 15 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus are two of the other top female players who will miss the grass-court Grand Slam.
Wimbledon, the most high-profile of tennis's four Grand Slam events, runs from June 27 to July 10 this year.
At present, Russian and Belarusian players are still able to compete at the French Open, which starts in May.
"On behalf of the All England Club and the Committee of Management of The Championships, we wish to express our ongoing support for all those impacted by the conflict in Ukraine during these shocking and distressing times," the AELTC statement said.
"We share in the universal condemnation of Russia's illegal actions and have carefully considered the situation in the context of our duties to the players, to our community and to the broader UK public as a British sporting institution.
"We have also taken into account guidance set out by the UK Government specifically in relation to sporting bodies and events."
Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev writes ‘no war please’ on a camera lens after winning a match at the Dubai Championships as Russia’s incursion into Ukraine continues pic.twitter.com/L7t44PWzt2— TRT World (@trtworld) February 25, 2022
'Competition itself will suffer'
The Kremlin said the ban would hurt the tournament itself given Russia's tennis prowess and was unacceptable.
"Once again they simply turn athletes into hostages to political prejudice, political intrigues," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
"Taking into account that Russia is a very strong tennis country, our athletes are at the top of world rankings, the competition itself will suffer from their removal," he added.
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