Wimbledon on collision course with ATP, WTA over Russia, Belarus ban

Wimbledon on collision course with ATP, WTA over Russia, Belarus ban
Russia's Daniil Medvedev reacts during his match against Poland's Hubert Hurkacz during the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London ib July 6, 2021. (AP file photo)
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Updated 21 May 2022

Wimbledon on collision course with ATP, WTA over Russia, Belarus ban

Wimbledon on collision course with ATP, WTA over Russia, Belarus ban
  • Wimbledon stripped of ranking points over Russia, Belarus ban
  • Decision by ATP, WTA reduces Wimbledon to exhibition event

The world’s most prestigious tennis tournament was on Friday set on a collision course with the sport’s global governing bodies after Wimbledon had its ranking points stripped by the ATP and WTA Tours over excluding players from Russia and Belarus.
The move by the men’s and women’s tours will reduce Wimbledon to an exhibition event but the AELTC, organizers of the Grand Slam, repeated their stance that the ban was the only viable option under British government guidance.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) also said it will not grant ranking points to Wimbledon this year for junior and wheelchair tennis events.
The AELTC decision to impose the suspension on Russian and Belarusian players at this year’s championships due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine is the first time players have been excluded on grounds of nationality since the immediate post-World War Two era when German and Japanese players were banned.
The AELTC on Friday said they were considering their options and were in discussions with their Grand Slam colleagues.
“In addition, we remain unwilling to accept success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime,” the AELTC said in a statement.
“We therefore wish to state our deep disappointment at the decisions taken by the ATP, WTA and ITF in removing ranking points for The Championships.
“We believe these decisions to be disproportionate in the context of the exceptional and extreme circumstances of this situation and the position we found ourselves in, and damaging to all players who compete on Tour.”

Ranking integrity
The ATP and WTA have themselves banned Russia and Belarus from international team competitions following the invasion, which Moscow calls a ‘special operation’, but allowed players from the two countries to compete as neutrals.
“The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our Tour,” the ATP said in a statement.
“The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP Ranking system. It is also inconsistent with our Rankings agreement.
“Absent a change in circumstances, it is with great regret and reluctance that we see no option but to remove ATP Ranking points from Wimbledon for 2022.”
WTA chief Steve Simon said the tour believes athletes participating in an individual sport “should not be penalized or prevented from competing solely because of their nationalities or the decisions made by the governments of their countries.”
“The recent decisions made by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to ban athletes from competing in the upcoming UK grass court events violate that fundamental principle,” Simon said.
“As a result of the AELTC’s position that it will not honor its obligation to use the WTA Rankings for entry into Wimbledon and proceed with a partial field not based on merit, the WTA has made the difficult decision to not award WTA ranking points for this year’s Wimbledon Championships.”

Ban slammed
Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian competitors has been slammed by top players such as 21-times Grand Slam champion Rafa Nadal who labelled it unfair, while world number one Novak Djokovic said he did not support the decision.
“Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a whole. Unilateral decisions of this nature, if unaddressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the Tour,” the ATP added.
“Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable on a Tour that operates in more than 30 countries.
“We remain hopeful of further discussions with Wimbledon leading to an acceptable outcome for all concerned.
“More broadly, we believe this matter again highlights the need for a united governance structure across professional tennis so that decisions of this nature can be made in a joint manner.”

Tune-up events
Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) also reciprocated the Wimbledon ban by excluding players from the two countries from its tune-up tour events.
However, the WTA said its tournaments at Nottingham, Birmingham, and Eastbourne would go ahead with ranking points on offer as “alternative and comparable playing and ranking point opportunities exist in the same weeks.”
The ATP had also said earlier this week that its events at Queen’s and Eastbourne will proceed as normal, offering full ATP ranking points.
While the LTA tournaments will continue to offer full ranking points, the British governing body is under review for sanctions from the ATP and WTA.
The ITF justified its decision not to award ranking points to Wimbledon this year for junior and wheelchair tennis events by saying it undermines the integrity of the competition.
“The ITF has determined that Wimbledon’s entry criteria banning Russians and Belarusians compromises the integrity of its international competition, in particular its ranking system, as there is a lack of alternative equivalent opportunities for players to compete for ranking points and prize money,” the ITF said.


French player who beat Serena reaches 4th round at Wimbledon

French player who beat Serena reaches 4th round at Wimbledon
Updated 02 July 2022

French player who beat Serena reaches 4th round at Wimbledon

French player who beat Serena reaches 4th round at Wimbledon
  • The unseeded Frenchwoman is making her debut at the All England Club
  • Tan’s debut at Wimbledon came on Day 2 of the tournament on Centre Court

WIMBLEDON, England: Whether her opponents are tournament favorites or crowd favorites, Harmony Tan keeps knocking them out of Wimbledon.
First there was Serena Williams, a seven-time champion at the All England Club. Then came 32nd-seeded Sara Sorribes Tormo. On Saturday, it was British player Katie Boulter.
“I think I like grass,” said Tan, who won three straight matches at a tournament for the first time in her career. “I really like to play with some slice, volley, everything with my game.”
The unseeded Frenchwoman is making her debut at the All England Club. She has played at the French Open four times, reaching the second round once. She also played at this year’s Australian Open and again reached the second round. At the US Open, she lost in the first round in 2018 in her only appearance at Flushing Meadows.
On Saturday, Tan beat Boulter 6-1, 6-1 on No. 2 Court. She never faced a break point in the match and converted five of the 10 she earned.
Tan’s debut at Wimbledon came on Day 2 of the tournament on Center Court, the biggest stadium on the grounds. That’s where she eliminated Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, in three sets.
“It was really emotional for the first round against Serena, and after it was just play match for match,” Tan said on court. “Today was really good tennis. I don’t know why, but ... it depends (on) the day.”
Tan will next face either Coco Gauff or Amanda Anisimova. The two Americans will face each other in Saturday’s first match on Center Court.
French Open champion Iga Swiatek was scheduled to face Alize Cornet on No. 1 Court. Swiatek is the top-seeded player at Wimbledon and has won 37 straight matches.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was scheduled to follow Gauff and Anisimova on Center Court. Then Rafael Nadal, another two-time champion at the All England Club, was to play Lorenzo Sonego in the main stadium after that.


Saudi Arabia’s Bukhari wins bronze at the Chuncheon Korea Open International Taekwondo Championships

Saudi Arabia’s Bukhari wins bronze at the Chuncheon Korea Open International Taekwondo Championships
Updated 02 July 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Bukhari wins bronze at the Chuncheon Korea Open International Taekwondo Championships

Saudi Arabia’s Bukhari wins bronze at the Chuncheon Korea Open International Taekwondo Championships
  • Medal is the first ever international podium finish in the sport by a female Saudi athlete

Abrar Bukhari has become the first Saudi female to win an international taekwondo medal after finishing third at the Chuncheon Korea Open International Taekwondo Championships.

Bukhari took bronze in the competition’s -40 kg category, two days after Saudi colleague Riyad Al-Dhafri also took bronze in the men’s -54 kg category.

Bukhari came to prominence three years ago after winning the bronze medal at the 2019 Arab Taekwondo Championship in Morocco, the first ever women’s medal for Saudi taekwondo.

The same year, Bukhari won a bronze medal at the 10th edition of the Asian Junior Taekwondo Championships in Jordan.

Her other achievements include bronze at the Fujairah Open Championship and the silver of the 2019 GCC Games in Kuwait.


PIF-backed LIV Golf announces $1m commitment to support Portland charities

PIF-backed LIV Golf announces $1m commitment to support Portland charities
Updated 02 July 2022

PIF-backed LIV Golf announces $1m commitment to support Portland charities

PIF-backed LIV Golf announces $1m commitment to support Portland charities
  • The donation builds on the launch of the organization’s ‘LIV to Give’ social responsibility initiative

LIV Golf has announced it will donate $1 million to support local environmental and community-based organizations in Portland, Oregon, and surrounding regions for this week’s LIV Golf Invitational Portland, the second tournament of the season.

The grant builds on the organization’s launch of the “LIV to Give” corporate social responsibility initiative, which supports education, environmental sustainability and golf development programs, as well as the well-being of communities now and in the future.

“LIV Golf has a bold, long-term vision to grow the game of golf while driving social change in communities across the world,” Atul Khosla, chief operating officer of LIV Golf Investments, said. “Making a positive impact through collaboration with non-profit organizations and community leaders is an integral part of LIV Golf’s mission, and we are proud to support The Wave Foundation and SEALKIDS Inc., charitable groups committed to protecting our future through environmental support and youth development.”

The Wave Foundation and SEALKIDS will both benefit from LIV Golf’s charitable support.

The Wave Foundation will use the funds towards its continued efforts to accelerate environmental programs that address climate change, environmental justice, and youth engagement. Through this grant, LIV Golf will also contribute to the foundation’s ongoing collaborations to develop a more equitable and resilient food system, as well as partnerships with indigenous regional communities that advance environmental sustainability and equity.

As part of this donation, the foundation will continue supporting and expanding its programs for meeting the needs of indigenous communities through food and nutrition relief, connecting local food producers to the marketplace, and collaborating on additional self-sustaining economic developments.

“The Wave Foundation is very close to my heart for its unwavering commitment to our Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs,” said Delson Suppah Sr., tribal elder for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. “I appreciate the support of our tribal way of life and recommendations. I am grateful and humbled by this generous contribution and the continued efforts to help us achieve our mission.”

SEALKIDS is the only national non-profit organization devoted to providing specialized educational support for children in the US Navy SEAL Community. Through this grant, LIV Golf will help children, including those based in the Oregon region, who live in extraordinary circumstances. SEALKIDS’ approach of academic testing, tutoring, therapy, advocacy, and enrichment has a positive transformational impact on the lives of these children, and prepares them for a lifetime of confidence and success.

“Children in the Navy SEAL community have different challenges than other students. This generous donation from LIV Golf will create a lasting impact for our organization and the children we serve,” said Greg Bonifield, SEALKIDS chairman of the board.  “This grant will help expand our reach as we work to fulfil our mission."

Each beneficiary receiving funds will work alongside LIV Golf to ensure the programs deliver value in the local communities.

LIV Golf is owned and operated by LIV Golf Investments whose vision and mission are centered around making sustainable investments to enhance the global golf ecosystem and unlock the sport’s untapped worldwide potential.


Emirati racer Amna Al-Qubaisi shows her bravery as she sets the pace for female drivers in the region

Emirati racer Amna Al-Qubaisi shows her bravery as she sets the pace for female drivers in the region
Updated 02 July 2022

Emirati racer Amna Al-Qubaisi shows her bravery as she sets the pace for female drivers in the region

Emirati racer Amna Al-Qubaisi shows her bravery as she sets the pace for female drivers in the region
  • Alongside father Khaled and sister Hamda, the 21-year-old took the wheel in the Asian regional championship for Abu Dhabi Racing team this year

What Amna Al-Qubaisi lacks in physicality, she more than make up for in bravery and fortitude.

The 21-year-old Emirati driver, who races for Abu Dhabi Racing, suffered a heavy crash earlier this year that left her F3 car badly damaged.

A week later, she was back behind the wheel.

It has been an eventful start to her participation in the Formula Regional Asian Championship.

“I had been off of racing for a year and coming back into it, getting back into the rhythm took me a while,” Al-Qubaisi told Arab News at the sideline of the #WhatSheSaid talk, a panel of inspirational female athletes from the region.

“In my first race weekend, I claimed my first points, so it started off really well. And then I had that big crash, and I had to start gaining that confidence to get back into the rhythm.

“But overall, it was a really good race weekend, and I managed to close the gap for my teammates.”

Those teammates happen to be her father, UAE racing legend Khaled, and her 19-year-old sister Hamda. Amna has enjoyed building up the sporting rapport with her family.

“It was actually really nice. I expected a lot of arguments and fighting,” she said. “But all in all, it was like a bonding moment. We gave each other advice, we helped each other on track, with slipstream and everything. So it was really nice.”

The enjoyment does not mean there have been no challenges, but the sibling rivalry has worked to the benefit of the team.

“There’s a lot of pushing (each other) with my sister as well, because she’s been competing in F4, and then coming into F3,” said Al-Qubaisi.

“We’ve seen a lot on social media people comparing us, in terms of our experience, and we try to shut that out and not let it affect our relationship. So we take it as how it is, we help each other and we both are good in our own different ways.”

Abu Dhabi Racing claimed a impressive fourth-place finish in the Formula Regional Asian Championship. Above all, Al-Qubaisi was racing at the highest level of her career so far.

“It was very challenging, especially the handling of the car; it was very physical,” she said.

“The formula regional car is a really heavy car, much heavier than the FIA F3, so physically, it was really difficult to overcome. But pace-wise I was there. It’s just a matter of consistency, trying to be more focused and putting things together.

“It took me a while to adapt to it when I was off for a year. So I was training in the gym just didn’t have that same feeling of being in the car.”

The from the early days of karting at Yas Marina and Al-Ain raceway as nine-year-old, Al-Qubaisi has set an example for other aspiring female drivers in the UAE and the region. Slowly, other are starting to rise through the ranks as well.

“I’ve heard in our team, that there are two girls competing in karting, and they’re doing pretty well,” she said. “I’ve heard also a younger female Emirati is competing in Europe. So we are seeing a couple of girls getting into the sport and raising more awareness of the sport. So, hopefully, we can see them also in single seaters, or maybe even in GT cars.”

With government backing in terms of funding, programs and facilities, there has never been a better time for young drivers to get into racing

“I think people should be taking a lot of advantage of (what’s on offer) ,” she said.

“We have really good tracks. We have an F1 track, Yas Marina has a school where they provide opportunities for people who would like to take racing as a career, as a sport. They host a lot of races at Yas Marina, and at Dubai Autodrome as well. I think we should really take advantage because it’s also at low cost. It’s much cheaper than what Europe charges. So they are helping the racing community.”

For now, the Al-Qubaisi family remains firmly in the driving seat, in every sense, and Amna has high hopes for the future.

“Next season, we’re thinking to do a few rounds in Europe,” she said. “And hopefully F3 Asia again.”


Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan

Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan
Updated 01 July 2022

Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan

Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan
  • Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne leads the way in the Drivers’ World Championship with a five-point advantage over nearest challenger and double champion Jean-Eric Vergne of DS TECHEETAH

SAUDI ARABIA: The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns to Marrakesh on Saturday for round 10 in the 16-race season, with four drivers pulling ahead in the battle for the drivers’ title.

Going into the Marrakesh E-Prix at the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan, Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne leads the way in the Drivers’ World Championship with a five-point advantage over nearest challenger and double champion Jean-Eric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH).

Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) is two points back in third place, while Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing), who won last time out in Jakarta, sits fourth, but only 12 points back from the standings lead.

With a maximum of 29 points on offer in Marrakesh, any one of those four drivers could lead the championship come the chequered flag on Saturday,

Evans’ win in Indonesia squeezed the margins splitting the top four, with Mortara and Vergne also making the podium last time around to pile the pressure on points pacesetter Vandoorne.

Consistency is key in Formula E if any driver is to assemble a run at the World Championship. The Belgian has finished outside the top five just twice in nine rounds, though both Evans and Mortara have scored in all but two races this season, while Vergne has never failed to tally.

The Atlas mountains provide the backdrop for Formula E’s fifth trip to the city’s centuries-old Agdal district, with the first Marrakesh E-Prix taking place in 2016. The track follows the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan — named after the crown prince of Morocco — before spilling out onto the streets of Marrakesh’s hotel district.

Renowned for being an energy-zapping circuit, this fast and highly technical track features 12 turns, three straights and a series of bends completing a track length of 2.971 kilometers.

Last time out in Morocco was magic for Antonio Felix da Costa and DS TECHEETAH who dominated proceedings, with victory setting in motion a run to the 2019-20 championship trophy.

Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) sealed the win on Formula E’s inaugural visit in 2016, with Felix Rosenqvist and Jerome D’Ambrosio taking back-to-back victories for Mahindra Racing in 2018 and 2019 before da Costa fired his season six title charge into life a year later here.