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Russian Tennis Federation president thanked all the top players for supporting Russians, also saying Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina is “absolutely nobody”

The top official of the tennis governing body in the Russian Federation Shamil Tarpischev says he is grateful tennis world is defending Russian players and it doesn’t matter what the Ukrainian No. 1 thinks.

In her recent interview to AP Elina Svitolina said he would love her colleagues from Russia and Belarus to share their stance on the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia and do it publicly. Svitolina also revealed “very view” players personally told her they are against the war.

“This is very sad because many athletes from different countries came up to us and showed us their support. That's why it really hurts us and we don't understand why exactly [Russian and Belarusian players] didn't.
For us, for Ukrainians, it's very important that they speak out, that they choose which side they take. We want to know, we want to feel safe about that. Because if they don't say their opinion on this, we don't know if they support their government, if they support the action of the army," Svitolina told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "Because in Russia and Belarus sport is a big propaganda."
Russian sports website MetaRatings quoted Shamil Tarpischev, president of the Russian Tennis Federation, earlier today: “There is no need to pay attention [to what Svitolina says], this is not only my opinion, but also what lawyers think. Because of any statement, we [Russian players] can be excluded from some competitions. Now we are playing, everything is fine with us. It's stupid to react at all. Who is Svitolina? Absolutely nobody”.

It would be interesting to find out, which tournament could exclude tennis players from Russia (or Belarus) in case they put a statement they condemn Russian invasion and actions of their governments in Ukraine. We failed to find any information if ATP or WTA would exclude players for a stance like this. However, Amelie Mouresmo, the tournament director of the French Open, confirmed that action could be taken against any player who decides to make a pro-Putin statement during Roland Garros. Although she didn’t mention exactly what penalties could be used if such a situation occurs. So, does Mr. Tarpischev give us a hint, Russian players can only make a pro-Putin statement, because they support their President, but obviously they can’t make it publicly as it leads to a possible ban?

MetaRatings, which reported the news, insists “the organizers of Wimbledon announced the ban of Russians and Belarusians to the tournament in 2022 due to the special operation in the Donbass”. Which is false, of course, but even sports media can’t put all the facts straight.

Talking about a possible ban at Wimbledon back in March Tarpischev said: “Our guys just have to say that sport is out of politics. They should leave our players alone and not impose on them what they want to impose». The RTF president also said there is a good chance to hold Kremlin Cup in 2022, even though both tours suspended the event. “There will be no full-fledged Kremlin Cup in 2022. We will organize Russia Open in the same period of time with our athletes and athletes from friendly countries. Can we count on Medvedev and the rest to play at the tournament? Initially, yes, we discussed it. Now we need to look for the prize money and a venue”.
Tarpishchev also said he is grateful to all foreign tennis players who have already spoken out in support of Russian athletes.

“Support from the [tennis] top players is always needed. [Russian] players and the [Russian] federation are grateful to all of the players who have already come out in defense of our athletes who were not allowed to compete [at Wimbledon]. In my opinion, all the top players should support us and thus defend the competitive principle in the tennis world”.

During the 90s, Shamil Tarpishev was a personal tennis coach to the president of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin, who was a big fan of tennis, and served as his adviser on sports matters. Tarpischev is also not a stranger to Vladimir Putin. Tennis was in the spotlight during Yeltsin’s presidency, but remains as important during Putin’s Era, even though there is a story about him admitting tennis rules are too difficult for him. Anyway, in 2008 Shamil Tarpischev was honored with a state decoration of the Russian Federation - “For Merit to the Fatherland”. In 2018 he received another one, this time even more prestigious, from Putin himself. “For a great contribution to the development of physical culture and sports, many years of conscientious work”.

It happened just four years after not such a glorifying moment, when back in 2014 Shamil Tarpischev has been fined $25,000 (£15,500) by the WTA and suspended from tour involvement for a year for questioning Serena and Venus Williams' gender in his comments on Russian TV, as he referred to legendary sisters as the "Williams brothers." The WTA Tour said the fine is the maximum allowed under tour rules and that it is seeking Tarpischev's removal as chairman of the Kremlin Cup for one year. The tour also said Tarpischev owes the Williams sisters a personal apology.

"The statements made by Shamil Tarpischev on Russian television with respect to two of the greatest athletes in the history of women's tennis are insulting, demeaning and have absolutely no place in our sport," WTA Tour chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster said in a statement. Asked whether he regretted his comments, Tarpischev told The Associated Press at the Kremlin Cup that the program on which he spoke was "a humorous show" adding: "I don't answer stupid questions". When asked about his ban, Tarpischev said: "I can't comment. I don't understand it".

Source: espn.co.uk / metaratings.ru / gazeta.ru / tennisweekend.ru

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