Ukraine refugees offered Wimbledon tickets

They will be joined on the middle Sunday by Covid heroes and some charity workers

A national flag on display during Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko's first-round match against Jodie Burrage. PA
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Ukrainian refugees who reached England after the war broke out at home are being given the chance to watch the Wimbledon tennis championships.

Throughout the two-week tournament, there will be other Ukraine-linked events including fundraising for refugees, while Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, sat in the royal box on the opening day.

Wimbledon, which is played at the All England Tennis Club, has banned Russian players from the tournament, a move that puts it at odds with the sport’s global administrators.

The refugees invited are those who settled in the London boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth, which are close to Wimbledon.

They will be joined on the middle Sunday by local residents, Covid heroes from the NHS and some charity groups.

“I’m delighted that Ukrainian refugees hosted across Merton and Wandsworth will be joining us for play on middle Sunday at Wimbledon, which we hope will have a very special atmosphere in its first year as part of the tournament schedule,” said Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England club.

The All England club and the Lawn Tennis Association have jointly committed a £250,000 ($303,817) donation on behalf of Wimbledon to the refugee response efforts through the Tennis Plays for Peace initiative and the British Red Cross Ukraine Appeal.

The donation is on top of £200,000 already committed by the Wimbledon Foundation to the British Red Cross Emergency Appeal, Disasters Emergency Committee and the Merton-area Polish Family Association.

“It is important that we acknowledge those that are suffering so greatly due to the unrelenting conflict imposed upon Ukraine,” said Scott Lloyd, LTA chief executive.

“We wanted to show, on behalf of British tennis, our continuing support for those that are most affected by providing a contribution to the humanitarian efforts for their aid.”

The Ukrainian ambassador to the United Kingdom Vadym Prystaiko, below centre, on the opening day on Centre Court. AP

Paige Murphy, head of the Wimbledon Foundation, said: “It is important to us that we are supporting people not just in our own local communities but also internationally, particularly in times of crisis.”

Wimbledon was stripped of its ranking points by the ATP and WTA Tours over the exclusion of players from Russia and Belarus.

The governing bodies have banned Russia and Belarus from international team competitions after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, but allowed players from the two countries to continue competing as neutrals

Serbian star Novak Djokovic is the tournament's men's top seed after Russian world No1 Daniil Medvedev was barred from taking part in the championships while Germany's second-ranked Alexander Zverev is injured.

Updated: June 29, 2022, 1:02 PM