JThe oldest tennis tournament in the world has come up with updates this year to keep up with the global policy. Wimbledon 2022, starting July 27, banned players from Russia and Belarus due to the invasion of Ukraine and subsequent atrocities. Then the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), responsible for awarding points at most tennis tournaments, decided to remove Wimbledon’s ranking and starting points from this year, essentially doing an exhibition tournament.
The biggest victims of this decision? Young tennis players who really need those points. Over the past few years, tennis has seen several underdogs defeat titans – from Emma Raducanu and Coco Guaff in the women’s category to Carlos Alcaraz in the men’s category.
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The top players, despite disagreeing with Wimbledon’s decision, remain mostly unmoved by the lack of rankings in this edition of the tournament – they have little to prove. Andy Murray went on to say that Wimbledon “will never be an exhibition and will never feel like an exhibition” with or without ranking points.
Still, the younger players, who are unlikely to understand Murray’s feelings, are counting on the tournament. Rankings and seeds in tennis remain crucial for its players, especially at the start of their career so that they can progress in the sport. And a system that relies so heavily on rankings forces players to constantly play and win matches for those points.
Tennis has seen a huge number of young tennis players upset tournament results recently, with 19-year-old Emma Raducanu (ranked No. 11) winning her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon 2021, and 18-year-old Coco Guaff (ranked No. ° 12), who beat Venus Williams in 2019, reaching the French Open final this year. It shows the incredible promise of the young players.
Players the world may not know as well, like China’s Qinwen Zheng (#46) or Canada’s Clara Tausen (#54), have achieved great feats in junior performances at international tennis tournaments, Tausen defeating Emma Raducanu in 2019.
Even in men’s tennis, players like 19-year-old Jannik Sinner (No. 9) and Holger Rune (No. 28) represent a category of players that can only advance in the sport, and with major players like Roger Federer (who is not playing the tournament this year) is slowly reaching retirement. Until then, they have to make sure they get ahead by getting an international ranking.
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a little too far
The sport presents itself as an unpredictable field, with surprising players reaching great heights, which is also possible this year at Wimbledon.
These results in tennis reinforce the fact that the peak of a player’s career begins before he is even 20 years old. Young players who have already become tennis pros are not looking for a showcase. They have massive sponsorships and an audience that just tunes in to watch them. What they need is a ranking boost, which they can only get by playing tournaments that will earn them those points.
Historically, symbolic gestures like the black armband, kneeling or changing shirts in sport have largely contributed to making socio-political statements. However, Wimbledon has gone a bit too far this year. The British tennis tournament in trying to maintain geopolitics fiddles with irreproachable careers. Not only players from Russia and Belarus, but young Wimbledon players are losing the opportunity to mark their careers due to the bloodshed that led to Russia’s impulsive actions against Ukraine.
Srushti Joshi is an intern at ThePrint. Views are personal.