RUSSIAN and Belarusian tennis players are set to be allowed to play at the French Open following the furious backlash to the Wimbledon ban.
The All England Club has controversially decided to ban stars from these two nations for the grass-court Major.
But according to RMC Sports in France, Roland Garros will not impose the same restrictions for the second Grand Slam of the year.
Instead, the Russian and Belarusian stars look set to compete – but probably under no national flag like on the tennis tours.
If any of them won the event, their national anthems would probably not be played.
The French Tennis Federation has not yet issued an official press release for the tournament, which will start on May 22.
Novak Djokovic and Barbora Krejcikova are the defending champions on Parisian clay – but 2020 winners Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek will be looking to regain their crowns.
Krejcikova, who also won the doubles, beat Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final.
Russia and Belarus were expelled from the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup team tournaments after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine – but the players were allowed to continue playing individually as neutral athletes.
However, Wimbledon last week upheld a call to block players appearing on SW19 pitches this summer from June 27.
The LTA will also bar them from competing in UK events leading up to the Championships, which cover Queen’s, Birmingham, Nottingham and Eastbourne.
The call sparked a mass reaction with the world division of tennis and sport, including the ATP and WTA Tours – with the likes of world number 2 and US Open champion Daniil Medvedev and world number 4 Aryna Sabalenka prevented from competing.
Wimbledon could face potential legal action from the Belarusian Tennis Federation for their hardline stance.
Djokovic, the world No. 1, was among many to hit the decision.
The Serb, cleared to play despite not being vaccinated against Covid, understands the causes of the traumatic conflict after growing up in war-stricken Yugoslavia.
Djokovic said: “I will always be the first to condemn war.
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“As a child of war, I know what kind of emotional trauma a war leaves behind.
“We in Serbia know what happened here in 1999, ordinary people are still suffering, we had a lot of wars in the Balkans.
“That being said, I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon.
“It’s not the athletes’ fault. When politics interferes with sport, it usually doesn’t go well.”
World number 8 Andrey Rublev of Russia added: “To be honest, the reasons they give don’t make sense, there’s no logic for what they’re offering.
“The things that are happening now are complete discrimination against us.”
Rublev also suggested he would be willing to donate his prize money from the prestigious tournament to humanitarian aid supporting Ukraine.
And his compatriot Aslan Karatsev, who reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open last year, wore a t-shirt with Wimbledon and the Union Jack during an apparent search at the All England Club.