BRITISH tennis could see two prestige events scrapped if Russians and Belarusians are still banned from competing at Wimbledon in June.
Wimbledon and LTA officials may have to perform an embarrassing U-turn and allow players back in order to protect the Queen’s Club and Eastbourne events.
The LTA could be suspended from all events if the current ban stays – which would see both Eastbourne and Queen’s removed from the diary and their licenses to stage their tournaments revoked.
The licenses would then be up for sale – with the events almost certainly moved elsewhere.
As well as sanctions both the WTA and ATP could hand out seven-figure fines.
Last year Wimbledon and the LTA banned Russian and Belarusian players from playing in UK grass events, which led to Wimbledon being stripped of ranking points.
The move, which was instigated by the British Government, saw Wimbledon officials with little option but to ban players and this year there seems to be no government plans to change that – with some sources saying they may take the decision away from the LTA and Wimbledon and refuse visas for players from those aggressive nations.
And with the war in Ukraine showing no sign of abating some tennis officials think their hands are tied by the government.
If the British government were to make the call and refuse visas, that would effectively take the matter out of the hands of the tennis authorities.
It could allow Wimbledon and the LTA to continue two stage events without further sanctions.
But a withdrawal of the current ban would almost certainly create a political storm in the UK with many MPs ready to condemn such a move.
An unknown source told the London Daily Mail on Friday that discussions were still ongoing and a decision was due soon, but it is clear there are still major differences to be resolved.
“We believe this is an extreme and exceptional situation that takes us far beyond the interests of tennis alone,” All England Chairman Ian Hewitt said.
“Government, industry, sport and creative institutions are all playing their part in efforts to limit Russia’s global influence.”
We all saw the disgraceful scenes in Melbourne when pro-Russian fans invaded courts with flags.
That is certainly something both Wimbledon and the British government are very keen to avoid, with the ensuing media circus playing into Putin’s propaganda push.
So everyone in the UK wants to keep the pressure up on Russia and their illegal war – All that is, except the ATP and the WTA.
IS politics the next stop for Andy Murray?
Murray is still very active on the ATP circuit but after the resignation of the divisive Scottish ‘First Minister’ Nicola Sturgeon last week, some are predicting sooner rather than later for Scotland’s favourite son.
Social media was awash with potential new Scottish leaders during the week with one Twitter user pointing out that Murray ‘clearly born to serve’.
“Interesting vacancy. Was looking to get into politics when I finish playing,” Murray tweeted.
Of course Murray is not an elected member of the Scottish parliament, so would have to wait for either a local ‘by-election’ or the Scottish elections in general to stand – and then hopefully be elected.
The move from tennis to politics has been rare – Marat Safin was elected to the Russian Duma in 2001 and current world’s hosted hated an Vladimir Putin once posed in tennis attire with political partner, Dmitri Medvedev.
Well. Actually they didn’t – it was a slick advertising campaign by a Moscow department store.
The Kremlin was not amused and ordered the posters be removed with Putin even issuing a bizarre statement saying the posters were ‘very close to vandalism’.
Romanian 80s star Ilie Nastase had a shot at politics as well, running to become the mayor of Bucharest in 1996.
He crashed and burned but that didn’t stop him becoming a state senator shortly after.
“I don’t feel at ease in the area of politics,” he said at the time.
“It’s difficult because in sports, you win or you lose. Here, you have to make concessions, and I’m not used to that.”
So Andy Murray? Watch this space.
A COUPLE of weeks ago we reported that Roger Federer was about to become the new face – and voice – of Wimbledon on the BBC.
This week, it has emerged, that may not be the case.
Doubts have emerged over Federer’s proposed move to join the BBC commentary team as a former Nike executive says Federer will be considering other opportunities.
In an extract from a new book ‘The Roger Federer Effect’, Mike Nakajima – the former tennis director at Nike – is quoted saying that Federer would snub the chance to work as a commentator.
“I can’t imagine he will be a commentator; nothing against that,” Nakajima said.
“But I’m sure he is thinking about other things.
“He’s such a savvy guy; if you’re a company, who wouldn’t want somebody like Roger working with you?
“I think he’ll branch out into other things. And his name will live on forever as one of the best athletes of all time.”
The Swiss legend has kept a low profile since retiring last September.
DOMINIC Thiem has waded into the tennis GOAT debate, saying it is disrespectful to all three greats of the game, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic.
Thiem said all three deserved to be termed the ‘greatest of all time’ in men’s tennis.
“I have a great relationship with all of them. I get along very well with all three and I admire them equally,” Thiem said during a break at the Argentina Open.
“All the time there is talk about who is better than the other and it really is not good. I don’t like to say that.”
According to the Austrian, each player possesses unique qualities that make them ‘great.’
COACH Darren Cahill said last week he is very confident that Simona Halep is innocent and will be cleared at her doping case scheduled for later this month.
Last October the ITIA provisionally suspended Halep after the Romanian tested positive for antianaemia drug Roxadustat.
“I think a lot about Simona and I feel bad every time I think about the experiences she goes through,” Cahill said.
“I made a statement about Simona Halep’s case and I’m willing to die next to those words because of her integrity and her DNA.
“There’s no way she’s cheating. She is a great woman and a great person. There’s no way she could have done the wrong thing. I wish her good luck.
“I understood they found the source of the contamination, not sure if it was in food or supplements, but they found out where it came from.”
SERENA Williams was one of the starts of the Super Bowl ads last weekend, appearing in not one, but two ads – one for Remi Martin brandy and the other for Michelob beer.
But Williams took time out to spend time with her daughter Olympia, on set of the Remy Martin ad in a great behind-the-scenes clip she shared on TikTok.
The Remy Martin ad called Inch By Inch, saw Williams, 41, giving a motivational speech about the importance of coming together as a team.
In the Michelob Ultra ad, Serena took part in a one-on-one golf game with Succession actor, Brian Cox.
If it could get any worse for fallen star Boris Becker, his ex-wife has branded him a ‘devil’ in another spat as the couple argue over an impending divorce.
Dutch model Sharlely Kerssenberg, 46, said Becker had stopped paying child support for their son Amadeus, 13 and said Becker ‘thinks the world revolves around him’.
She told German newspaper Bild: “Boris can be charming and loving when he wants to, but also extremely hurtful with words. A devil.
“Prison didn’t make Boris a better person. Boris lives in his world in which everything revolves around Boris Becker.”
The former model said she did not know where her former husband was currently living, making divorce proceedings difficult with no court date set.