Ukraine star Sergiy Stakhovsky makes new call for Wimbledon to tackle Russia – EXCLUSIVE

Ukrainian tennis star Sergiy Stakhovsky has appealed for “special” Wimbledon to keep showing solidarity and again ban Russian and Belarusian players this summer.

Speaking from a bunker in Kiev where he is serving in the National Guard, the former world No.31 said: “Nothing has changed in a significant way to allow them to compete.”

The All England Club will decide next month whether to forbid Russian and Belarusian players for a second year following the invasion of Ukraine.

Last year’s action saw the grass-court Grand Slam stripped of rankings points – and the LTA hit with big fines for refusing entry to other British events. Another ban this year could see licences for the events at Queen’s Club and Eastbourne lost.

Speaking on the first anniversary of the war, Stakhovsky said Wimbledon’s unilateral actions last year were “highly appreciated” in Ukraine. “It was all we had,” he said.

But the emotional 37-year-old insisted: “It has got worse because the numbers of this war grow and they grow fast. Nothing has changed in a significant way to allow them to compete.

“Unfortunately Wimbledon didn’t find any support in any of the other Slams but I guess that is what makes Wimbledon special. It was never about the money. Wimbledon is about different values and they always stood out.

“Even in the way we compete at Wimbledon in white clothes, it stands for tradition, it stands for different values. And those values are what makes Wimbledon a very different tournament from all the others. It was never about the money.”

The Australian Open saw Russian fans displaying pro-war flags and T-shirts and women’s singles winner Aryna Sabalenka, who played under a neutral flag, declared: “Everyone still knows that I’m a Belarusian player.”

Stakhovksy, who beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2013, said: “I would ban them. Not one of them publicly stood up and said that he or she is against the invasion.

“If there was one, there would be another. If everyone is silent, everyone else thinks everything is fine and they are doing what they should do.”

Wearing his battle fatigues, Stakhovsky was speaking via Teams during a period away from the frontline back in the Ukrainian capital.

I have seen death, destruction, desperation, despair,” he said. He thanked the British people for their support but said they need more. “I know we look like beggars but it is what it is.

“This is a full-scale war. Missiles are landing all over Ukraine. For how long? It is going to be as long as we are breathing. Because unfortunately, we are dependent on the support we get from the world, and Great Britain.

“If we are not going to get that support and the Russians break through that line, then we are going to be fighting city to city. It is going to be the scenario of Syria because Ukrainians will not give up.

“It is going to be guerrilla warfare. But what the rest of the world is really under-estimating is that once Russia, in five years, in ten years if we don’t get the support, once they are going to roll over Ukraine or create this no-man’s land in Ukraine, the next step is that they are going to be attacking Europe.”

At the end of the interview, I thanked Stakhovsky and said I hoped we would speak again in happier times. “If I am still here, we will,” he said.