John Millman has condemned Wimbledon’s “unilateral” decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players amid an extraordinary and impassioned attack on the governance of world tennis.
The Australian veteran, a Players’ Council representative for the ATP men’s tour, also called on the UK government to reveal if he was actually behind the decision, and not at Wimbledon.
Millman, who spoke fondly of the “disgusting” conflict in Ukraine, also said players’ opinions were ignored due to a lack of consultation and communication.
Speaking after his loss to Sebastian Korda at Roland Garros on Tuesday, the 32-year-old said he still thinks he will play at Wimbledon but thinks the world’s biggest tournament might even ban him from playing. because of his comments.
“Look, my dad flew to this, the hallowed ground of Wimbledon, mate, a beautiful place. I love it,” Millman said.
“But I don’t like the way they made the decision.
The Australian veteran, a Players Council representative for the ATP men’s tour, also called on the UK government to reveal if he was actually behind the decision, and not at Wimbledon (pictured, Millman playing at Paris Tuesday)
“If the whispers say it’s government guidelines, have the government come out and say it was them.
“I’m getting older, there probably won’t be as many chances to play at Wimbledon, so I think I’ll play but maybe I’ll get banned for saying that stuff.
‘I mean, you can, can’t you? This is what has bothered me since the very beginning – unilateral decisions.
Millman spoke eloquently for 20 minutes about “bad governance” at the highest levels of sport.
“First of all, I want to say that I am against any conflict where people die,” he began.
“The Russian-Ukrainian conflict is terrible. I feel bad for the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian players, I hate it.
“But I hate all conflict. I didn’t like the war in Iraq where collateral damage is seen as innocent people dying. I don’t like the UK selling bombs to the Saudis when they bomb Yemen.
“I don’t like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I don’t like the Libyan conflict, anywhere people are dying. I think it sucks.
“But I don’t like unilateral decisions either.
“There was an opportunity to play the Russians (and) the Belarusians (at Wimbledon).
“There were two options – recommendations, not even laws – given by the UK government. One, sign a declaration and be able to play; and the other to ban them.
“Without really any consultation, a unilateral decision was taken to ban players. It goes against what tennis is.
“I have a problem with a lack of communication. The players’ council, the players’ representatives on the ATP board, were only consulted after the decision had been made.
Wimbledon made the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players in light of Putin’s actions in Ukraine (pictured, Ukrainians living in a Kyiv metro station on Tuesday)
“The Russian and Belarus players were not even asked if they would sign the declaration before this decision was made. We talk about their safety. They weren’t even asked if they could sign it.
“And that’s where the governance is bad in tennis, at the Grand Slam level. Because it should be a partnership.
“I know COVID is tough, but in the past two years we have seen Grand Slam tournaments change the date three times and the best player in our world (Novak Djokovic) locked up in detention for two weeks, horrific scenes to see if you are pro-vaccination or not.
“It’s a difficult time, but the responsibility has to stop somewhere, where there is a change in governance and consultation where players and tournaments work together.
“I just don’t see that and I don’t see it with this decision.”
Of the ATP’s decision to ban Wimbledon ranking points, he said: “We have allowed our player and tournament representatives to make this decision.”
“Obviously there were a lot of options on the table, but the fact is you can’t make one-sided decisions and exclude players. That’s discrimination, huh.
“The players are ignored. There is no consultation. There is frustration (on their part) with everything, that they are ignored, that points have been taken away, frustration that there is of discrimination.
“We have to start working together and that’s not happening.”