Russian tennis star makes politics claim
Russia’s Andrey Rublev has said tennis can provide an example of sport being outside of politics despite the likes of Wimbledon imposing bans on players because of the conflict in Ukraine.
Rublev returned to action at the Citi Open in Washington DC on Tuesday, defeating British rival Jake Draper in straight sets to advance to the last 16 of the hard court event at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center.
Like his compatriots, Rublev was sidelined from Wimbledon in June and July because of the decision by UK tennis bosses to block Russian and Belarusian competitors from all events in Britain.
Speaking after beating Draper, Rublev admitted that tennis was polluted by politics – but expressed his belief that it does not have to be that way.
“Of course, I think politics were always in sport. Everybody knows this. But I do believe that by being united and doing good things for the peace, tennis can be [outside politics], in general,” Rublev said, according to tennis.com.
“If tennis will be an example of it, maybe other sports will follow, and in general, maybe one day sport can be without politics.
“Obviously at least I believe that tennis can be without politics, because tennis is something that is independent.
“I think it's one of very few sports that's independent from the rest of the sports. We have players from everywhere.
“We play every country. There is not one place that we are performing. We are traveling all around the world,” added the 24-year-old.
“I think tennis have a good chance to be outside of politics, because we have all the nations. We have boys and girls, so many, all the continents, so many countries, so many tournaments per year.”
Rublev recently appeared in an in-depth YouTube interview with blogger Vitya Kravchenko which was filmed in Spain, and which featured Russian female star Daria Kasatkina.
The pair discussed the situation in Ukraine, but Kasatkina in particular made headlines for confirming she was in a relationship with a woman.
Rublev said that the interview was “super positive” and that “almost 90 or even more percent of the people was writing only positive, really good things that I didn't even expect.”
Rublev is seeded first at the Citi Open, and plays the winner of the all-American match between Jack Sock and Maxime Cressy in the next round.
Unlike at Wimbledon, Rublev and his fellow Russians will be free to compete at the next Grand Slam of the year when the US Open gets underway at the end of the month.