Russian and Belarusian players will not be allowed to compete at this year’s Wimbledon with tournament organisers imposing a ban due to the conflict in Ukraine.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club made the announcement on Wednesday in a move that will mean men's world No 2 Daniil Medvedev and women's No 4 Aryna Sabalenka cannot take part in the UK Grand Slam.
“We recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime,” Ian Hewitt, chairman of the tennis club said in a statement.
“But given the high profile environment of The Championships the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player [including family] safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis.”
Players from the two countries have so far been permitted to continue taking part on the tennis tour but under a neutral flag and with no anthem played.
It was believed this would extend to the three remaining Grand Slam events - the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open - though the International Tennis Federation (ITF) had banned both countries' teams from the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup.
The ban means Medvedev and world No 8 Andrey Rublev will not be competing at the All England Club. US Open champion Medvedev reached the fourth round of Wimbledon last year
Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is 15th in the women's rankings while Sabalenka of Belarus was a beaten semi-finalist in London last year. Belarus' Victoria Azarenka – a two-time Australian Open champion – will also miss out.
Players from the two countries are still permitted to enter the French Open, which begins next month.
Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpischev told the country's Sport Express newspaper that there was nothing it could do.
“I think this decision is wrong but there is nothing we can change,” Tarpischev said. “The [Russian] Tennis Federation has already done everything it could.
“I don't want to talk about this, but I will say that this decision goes against the athletes. We are working on the situation, that's all I can say.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Marta Kostyuk, Ukraine's world No 52, criticised the silence of her Russian and Belarusian rivals over the situation in her country.
“In times of crisis, silence means agreeing with what is happening,” she wrote in a statement addressed to the 'Tennis Community' and published on her Twitter account.
“The very silence of those who choose to remain that way right now is unbearable as it leads to the continuation of murder in our homeland.
“There comes a time when silence is betrayal, and that time is now.”
The 19-year-old demands the WTA, ATP and ITF ask those players whether they support the invasion, the military activities in Ukraine and whether they are sympathetic to the Russian and Belarus regimes.
“If applicable, we demand to exclude and ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in any international event, as Wimbledon already done,” she wrote.
Wimbledon is scheduled to run from Monday, June 27, to Sunday, July 10.