Billie Jean King called for Wimbledon to allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete at the All England Club this year as Aryna Sabalenka set up the possibility of an all-Belarus Australian Open final.Sabalenka defeated Donna Vekic 6-3 6-2 and will take on surprise package Magda Linette on Thursday while Victoria Azarenka plays Russian-turned-Kazakh Elena Rybakina.With Russian Karen Khachanov through to the semi-finals in the men’s draw and Andrey Rublev also in the quarter-finals, the stakes could not be higher as Wimbledon organisers weigh up whether to reverse last year’s ban.Speaking at a press conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the WTA, King said: “Just have them play and get their money.“I hope they do, just keep it the same way the other ones are.
Life is too short. The WTA was started for that, so we’d all have one voice to help protect players.”With the war in Ukraine showing no sign of ending, Wimbledon risks being accused of hypocrisy if Russians and Belarusians are allowed to play this year, but a continued ban would again put them in conflict with the WTA and ATP.World number five Sabalenka reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2021 and would have been one of the favourites had she been allowed to compete last summer.Some Ukrainian players continue to call for Russian and Belarusian players to be banned more widely, and Sabalenka said: “I would say that of course it affects me a lot.I just understand that it's not my fault.
I have zero control.“That was tough and it’s still tough. But I just understand that it’s not my fault. I have zero control.
If I could do something, of course I would do it, but I cannot do anything. Just having this understanding is really helping meRead more on independent.co.uk