Wimbledon has not banned athletes from other countries since World War II, when it banned athletes from Germany and Japan.

Tennis players from Russia and Belarus will be banned from this year’s Wimbledon tournament due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) said.

High-profile players affected by the ban include US Open champion Daniel Medvedev, who was recently No. 1 in the Tennis Professional Association (ATP) ranking; Andrei Rublev, the men’s eighth-ranked; Aryna Sabalenka, her is a 2021 Wimbledon semi-finalist and is ranked fourth in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) ranking; Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open-winning former Women’s World Champion First; and last year’s French Open runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

“We recognize this is difficult for the individuals affected, and they will suffer as a result of the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime, who feel sad.”

He said tennis organisations had “thought carefully” about possible alternative measures under the direction of the UK government.

“But given the high-profile environment of the tournament, which does not allow sport to be used to promote the importance of the Russian regime and our broader concern for the safety of the public and players, including families, we do not see a viable basis for continuing any other activity,” Hewitt said.

Wimbledon, the most watched event of the four major tennis championships, is played this year from June 27 to July 10.

Russian officials reacted angrily to reports of the ban, calling it “unacceptable.”

“Once again they have turned athletes hostage to political prejudice and political intrigue,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“This is unacceptable. Considering Russia is a very strong tennis country and our athletes are at the top of the world rankings, the game itself will suffer from their elimination.”

The tennis governing body has banned Russia and Belarus from international team competitions following the February 24 invasion. However, Russian and Belarusian players are allowed to play on the tour, but not in their country’s name or flag.

For now, Russian and Belarusian players can still participate in the French Open, which starts in May.

“I think the decision was wrong, but we cannot change it,” Shamir Tapishev, president of the Russian Tennis Federation, told the country’s Sport Express earlier.

“this [Russian] The Tennis Federation has done everything it can,” he said.

“I don’t want to talk about this, but I will say that this decision is not good for the athletes … We are working on it and that’s all I can say.”

Wimbledon has not banned athletes from the country since World War II, when athletes from Germany and Japan were banned from competing.

Wednesday’s announcement followed a statement by Ukrainian tennis players Elina Svitolina and Marta Kostyuk calling for a blanket ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competitions.

Global Athlete, an international athlete-led pressure group, said banning athletes from both countries would also “protect those athletes who have no choice but to withdraw”.

“These athletes must obey the orders of their country’s leaders,” it added.

British Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said last month that he would not be happy with a “Russian athlete flying the Russian flag” and winning Wimbledon in London.