Andy Murray’s Wimbledon Exhibition Remarks Were Disingenuous And Short-Sighted

Given the profile of The Championships in the United Kingdom and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of Government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible.

In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships.

It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022.

Wimbledon Statement on Russian and Belarusian Players, April 20, 2022

Wimbledon’s condemnation of Russia’s war with Ukraine is to be commented. But their decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players is frustrating even if it is better than the written declarations the British government suggested. Dangerous.

Unprecedented, this ban contradicts the sport’s commitment to merit-based play. In response, on May 20th both tours (WTA and ATP) stripped the event of its ranking points; players will lose all of their 2021 Wimbledon points and they will not earn any 2022 Wimbledon points. This move protects the banned players, but it also negatively affects many players. For example, Djokovic will lose his #1 spot; Federer and Serena will lose their world ranking; and ironically, without playing, Russian Daniil Medvedev will become #1. Dumbfounding.

This is upending the sport!

Technically, Wimbledon will be an exhibition this year. And it is not yet determined whether this year’s winners will receive the usual prizes. It won’t be surprising if the tournament amends its decision before play begins on June 27th allowing players to at least keep their existing points similar to the Covid Ranking System Freeze.

Players have been unusually vociferous! Notably, Naomi Osaka said, “I feel like if I play Wimbledon without points, it’s more like an exhibition. I know this isn’t true, right? But my brain just feels that way. Whenever I think something is like an exhibition, I just can’t go at it 100%.” Andy Murray took great umbrage with this sentiment in a pointed twitter thread. Though he did not mention Osaka, it is clear his outrage was directed at her, and not the press, namely Christopher Clarey who noted the exhibition nature of this year’s Wimbledon. Foul.

I follow golf very closely and have no idea how many ranking points the winner of The Masters gets. Me and my friends love football and none of us know or care how many ranking points a team gets for winning the Fifa World Cup. But I could tell you exactly who won the World Cup and the Masters.

I’d hazard a guess that most people watching on centre court Wimbledon in a few weeks’ time wouldn’t know or care about how many ranking points a player gets for winning a 3rd-round match. But I guarantee they will remember who wins. Wimbledon will never be an exhibition and will never feel like an exhibition. The end.

Usually the voice of reason, Murray’s stance here lacks objectivity. The two-time Wimbledon champ and ATP Council member, is so entrenched in the sport, he has begun to sound like the old guard. Worst, he used another player’s comments to straw man the argument. In doing so, he derides a colleague in an attempt to bolster his point of view. Patronizing.

His assumption that fans do not understand or care about ranking points is disingenuous. Ranking points are inextricably linked to the sport and shown endlessly throughout matches, tournaments, press conferences, reports… Surely the specific number of points for a win is minutiae for most, but the system is built on it at every level (USTA, ITF, WTA, ATP). In short, Murray wants us to believe that true tennis athletes play Wimbledon for the honor. Please.

Tennis is a business! For the players it is a job; the elite are corporations. As a veteran on the tour he understands the branding and business of this prestigious tournament and its importance to Britain’s economy. This redirect was cute though.

Murray’s twitter rant stinks of elitism and gaslighting (hoodwinking). In calling out Osaka, he fails to grapple with the reality of 95% of the players. For the majority of players this is a financial issue. Their endorsements, sponsorships, indeed livelihood is dependent on their performance at grand slams; these ranking points are their bread and butter. To reduce this to a test of commitment or love of the sport is an affront to our intelligence. With the whisper of boycott rising, his comments read even more nefariously.

This is his shut-up and play moment. History will show he is on the wrong side of this issue. There is no logic in his argument. He wants to divorce ranking points from the historic nature of playing on this grass, but he fails to acknowledge that two things can be true. Players certainly want to get this memory in their career bank, but they also want, indeed need, the ranking points the system created and institutionalized.

Andy Murray’s stance is a rather righteous right-wing one. But what do you expect from a player who so embraces endless five set matches as a badge of strength and endurance even with evidence of increased injury and decreased fan engagement? Sad.

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