US Open organizers considered following Wimbledon's lead in banning Russian players

Organizers of the US Open "seriously considered" following in the footsteps of Wimbledon and banning Russian and Belarusian players ahead of next month’s Grand Slam.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, those descending from the Eastern European country were banned from competing at SW19.

Arguably the biggest name to be affected by the sanction was then-World No.2 Daniil Medvedev, and it has now been revealed that the Russian star almost missed out on the chance to defend his US Open crown at Flushing Meadows next month.

The news on the near suspension comes after the United States Tennis Association announced a fundraising event to raise money for the people of Ukraine in the way of a charity match held on the nation’s independence day on August 24.

Instead of following in the footsteps of the All England Club, US Open bosses instead opted to host the fundraising event and make a statement by having players from both Russia and Belarus attend.

Belarusian two-time Grand Slam champion and former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka has been confirmed as an attendee alongside Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek.

Revealing Azarenka’s decision to make an appearance, US Tennis chief Stacey Allister told the New York Times: “It was a quick response. She said, ‘This is a player choice, and I want to play.’”

It remains unclear as to whether the Russian and Belarusian stars will compete in the charity event, or just event from the sidelines.

Belarusian star Azarenka did speak out against Wimbledon’s recent ban, claiming that tennis missed a ‘big opportunity to show how sports can unite’. She said, as quoted by : "I think what people missed here was a big opportunity to show how sports can unite. I think we missed that opportunity, but I hope we can still show it.”

Azarenka was back in action on American soil last week, after she reached the round of 32 at the Citi Open before losing to Xiyu Wang. Despite this, the former World No.1 was less fortunate at this week’s Canadian Open, as she was left unable to compete after her visa was not approved.

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