Andrey Rublev has revealed a potential $1.8 million offer to end Wimbledon’s ‘complete discrimination’ against Russian and Belarusian tennis players.
The grass-court grand slam this week announced players from the two countries would be banned from the tournament in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The decision would rule out world No.8 Rublev, world No.2 Daniil Medvedev and women’s world No.4 Aryna Sabalenka among several more top-100 players.
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The ATP and WTA tours condemned Wimbledon and were joined by the likes of men’s world No.1 Novak Djokovic and tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King.
Rublev, a Russian who wrote ‘no war, please’ on a camera in February, said the reasons given by Wimbledon during a call with players had “no sense, they were illogical”.
The phone hook-up included a desperate offer from players to reverse the decision, according to the Moscow-born star, but it is unclear who was present.
“What is happening right now is complete discrimination,” Rublev said following a victory in Belgrade on Thursday.
“I was trying to explain that maybe if we want really to help – at least, what we proposed to Wimbledon – is to have at least a chance to choose if we want to play or we don’t want to play.
“And if there is a statement that we need to sign, on top of that, to give all the prizemoney to humanitarian help – to the families who are suffering, to the kids who are suffering.
“I think that move, at least, will do something. It will show that (the British) government is standing for peace, and they really want to do action to help.
“I think if you calculate more or less the amount of money, it can be up to one million pounds ($A1.8 million).
“This is huge, huge money that I think in two months not one sport ever donated. Tennis will be the first and only sport who will donate that amount and it will be Wimbledon.
“They will take all the glory, all the respect from everyone – not from us (players), because no one cares about us. I think this is the right move.”
Wimbledon made its decision despite the British government reportedly saying players could take part by declaring they did not support Russia’s invasion.
Rublev said he had lived in his home country for his entire life and wanted to “show that we are good people”.
“In my case, I just try to be humble and try to be educated in the right way,” he said.
World No.26 Karen Khachanov, also speaking at the Serbia Open, said he was “really sad, disappointed, devastated” by the entire situation.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian women’s world No.25 Elina Svitolina sided with Russian and Belarusian players in their bid to play at Wimbledon.
But she admitted she remained upset by a lack of support from those colleagues behind the scenes.
“We don’t want them banned completely,” Svitolina 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. This is for me the main point.
“If they didn’t choose, didn’t vote for this government, then it’s fair they should be allowed to play and compete.”
Svitolina, who has friends and family still in Ukraine, said Russian and Belarusian players had to do more.
“I can count on one hand how many Russian and Belarusian players who have asked me how I’m doing, how is my family, is everyone safe,” Svitolina said.
“That’s why I feel sad about this situation. Personally some people should do a bit more than they’ve done. It’s mysterious.
“The way Russian and Belarusian players have been is very sad. We’re colleagues who see each other every week so it’s shocking to see this change and so quick.”
– with AAP