Wimbledon banned Russian & Belarusian players because of Duchess Kate?

In April, Wimbledon announced that they were banning all Russian and Belarusian tennis players from competing in this year’s Championships. Their argument was that in the heightened political climate – given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – Russian and Belarusian athletes will be used as propaganda tools for the Russian state. Wimbledon also argued that they were trying to get ahead of (what they thought would be) the government’s inevitable crackdown of Russian and Belarusian citizens entering the UK.

Last week, the governing bodies of the men’s and women’s tours responded by taking away the points given to Wimbledon. As in, players earn certain points per round, and points determine player rankings. The ATP Tour and WTA Tour basically downgraded Wimbledon to an exhibition tournament with good prize money. Wimbledon issued a pissy statement about it and reiterated their reasoning for banning players by nationality. Neither side is happy. But at least the Telegraph is here to tell us the “real” reason why Wimbledon banned Russians and Belarusian players: to spare their patron, the Duchess of Cambridge, from having to interact with a Russian. WTF? (note: this Telegraph article is from April, but it’s being picked up widely this week for obvious reasons.)

Tennis is not simply a public relations opportunity for the Duchess, but a genuine passion, which is one of the reasons Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarusian players from this summer’s tournament. The prospect of embarrassing the All England Club’s patron – given her emotional investment in the sport – by asking her to hand the men’s singles trophy to Daniil Medvedev was simply too much to bear.

Wimbledon likes to pride itself as a tournament fit for royalty, and in Kate they have the monarchy’s most prized asset, whose endorsement is worth more than any of the many commercial deals the club has struck with sponsors.

It helps that Kate’s love of the sport is genuine, and predates her royal credentials. Even in the early years of her courtship with Prince William, paparazzi snapped her on tennis courts, and she once revealed in a BBC documentary marking 90 years of coverage at Wimbledon, that her “first memories” of the tournament were of being “really taken by [Andre] Agassi and [Pete] Sampras, [Goran] Ivanisevic and Steffi Graf”.

After her marriage to Prince William she accepted an honorary membership at west London’s Queen’s Club, had a tennis court built at the family’s Anmer Hall residence and reportedly employed the expertise of eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer – who attended her sister Pippa’s wedding – to give Prince George a tennis lesson.

“As a younger and senior royal she is a huge asset to the AELTC,” said Nigel Currie, a PR and sponsorship consultant for NC Partnership. “She is undoubtedly one of the best known and most recognisable women in the world and her popularity and position provide extra status and prestige to an already huge global tournament. It all adds significantly to the Wimbledon brand and takes the event beyond tennis. The comparable event in golf, The Masters does not have this same endorsement, and relies on past legends of the game which appeals to the golf market but not necessarily any wider market outside the game of golf.”

Kate neither has nor seeks any say in how Wimbledon is run, but even the merest possibility that she could be seen as endorsing the Russian regime was enough for the club’s chiefs to take the nuclear option and ban some of the world’s leading players. Ultimately, the club has decided that keeping strong relations with the Duchess – and future Queen – is more important than any short-term hits they sustain from banning Medvedev and his compatriots.

[From The Telegraph]

The problem with this is that there’s the implicit assumption that by the mere act of “handing the trophy to the winner,” Kate is endorsing every single one of the player’s beliefs and the politics of the player’s home country. She handed the trophy to Novak Djokovic last year, are you saying that Kate endorses Novak’s anti-vaccine stance and his cozy relationship with the current Serbian government? That’s exactly what they’re saying! Maybe the better tact would be to argue that Kate will hand the trophy to the winner regardless of politics, because Kate – the future Queen, mind you – is supposed to be above politics? Because this is a sh-tty f–king argument, it’s just mindless Keen embiggening. I genuinely hope that Wimbledon has a better argument than this for banning two nationalities from playing.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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55 Responses to “Wimbledon banned Russian & Belarusian players because of Duchess Kate?”

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  1. Wiglet Watcher says:

    So, who will spare her from choosing to buy and wear clothes designed by a racist Russian?
    My goodness these reporters are so desperate to paint her in any good light and she gives them absolutely nothing.

    • Elizabeth Regina says:

      Did they honestly think that no one will do some digging into who the dress designer is? This is very embarrassing for the RF. Kate who is meant to be the future POW is tone deaf and has no clue. She also surrounds herself with those who have no clue. Meghan was right they will outright LIE to protect others and refuse to tell the truth about her and Harry.

      • Miranda says:

        It really shows just how oblivious, if not outright stupid, she is. For her entire public life, there have been people who’ve been employed to track down her clothing designers (almost solely to do that, in fact, as she does so little else besides…wear clothes). She still doesn’t get it. She doesn’t want to get it. She thinks she’s so special that she shouldn’t HAVE to get it.

  2. notasugarhere says:

    I sincerely doubt Kate could locate Ukraine, Russia, or Belarus on a map. Nor does she care one bit about the 7 million Ukraine refugees or the millions of others remaining in their invaded country. This is another struggle attempt to make it look like Kate cares about ‘the world’.

    • Seraphina says:


    • Elizabeth Regina says:

      She cares so much that she is reported to wear a Russian designer’s dress. What planet is she on?

    • Miranda says:

      Kate cannot believe that she, as a future queen (did you read that in a shaky, emotionally fraught voice? You should have) is expected to care about anyone but herself.

      • Sue E Generis says:

        Wasn’t it reported a long time ago (I can’t quite remember where) that a cousin of hers said Kate has trouble being interested in anything and anyone besides herself?

      • Cairidh says:

        If you look up the golden child of a narcissistic mother, it says they’re not really interested in anyone other than them-self, their romantic partner, their mother, and to a lesser extent, their nuclear family.

    • DuchessL says:

      And since when does she have an opinion??? And a political one???!

      • DuchessL says:

        Yet she will wear a russian designer at this time. Duchess and her embiggening team are clueless. They plan their stuff without even briefing lazykatie

    • BothSidesNow says:

      The CopyKeen embiggening is going to be very heavy handed from now until after the Jubbly.

      CopyKeen has NO influence NOR does she catapult any of the players careers. This is nothing but puffing up KHate. Again.

      • BeanieBean says:

        That article did read as though they think Kate is a good marketing draw for Wimbledon–essentially, good for their bottom line.

    • TheOriginalMia says:

      Exactly! They are ridiculous.

  3. Becks1 says:

    Why would they be embarrassed if Kate had to interact with Russians? Isn’t that kind of what the royal family does – interact with problematic foreign officials/government representatives on a fairly regular basis?

    If they were worried that it would look political for Kate to hand a trophy to a Russian, then aren’t they worried that it looks political to ban the Russians so that she doesn’t have to do so?

    I’m not mad at Wimbledon for banning Russian players, but I’m rolling my eyes at the idea that Kate is to be protected at all costs from interacting with anyone with unsavory connections or nationalities etc.

    • LadyMTL says:

      Seriously! The Queen had to put up with a visit from all kinds of unsavory people (*coughDonald Trumpcough*) and Kate can’t hand a trophy to an athlete?

      I’m not angry with them for banning Russians / Belorussians, but the press acting like this is some huge political statement done to protect Kate is laughable.

      • RoyalBlue says:

        the queen associates with dictators and somehow that’s ok so what is fragile Kate’s problem.

    • MeganC says:

      Kate handing a trophy to a Russian would be instantly turned into Russian propaganda most likely suggesting some sort of support for the war in Ukraine.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      Well, she wore a Russian designer to the garden party yesterday and if rumours are to be believed her husband is shagging a Russian so not buying this as a way to save her ‘bushes’ (typo and it stays).

    • TrixC says:

      Exactly. I find it really hard to believe Kate was the reason for Wimbledon’s decision. I think they were concerned with the broader optics of a Russian player potentially winning the championship and how that would go down with the fans. The Royal family are not supposed to get involved in politics anyway.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Didn’t the Queen have that sheikh with her in her royal box at some horse show, the one who kidnapped his daughter & she hasn’t been seen since? The one whose second wife recently left him? But yeah, sure, Kate can’t be seen with Russians. And I agree with Kaiser; their line of reasoning must mean that she tacitly approve Novax’s stance on vaccines. Their ‘reasoning’ is preposterous.

  4. ThatsNotOkay says:

    This is…not it. How about Khate not show up if she doesn’t want to hand a Russian a piece of metal instead of banning an individual who more than likely is against the atrocities his country’s leader inflicts upon anyone and any country, any given day? Imagine if Americans had been banned during the Bush or Trump years. Would I have understood it? Kinda. Would it have sucked and made too many assumptions about people based simply on their nationality? Yes. I absolutely understand boycotts, such as for the Olympics, though those bans tend to punish the athletes more than embarrass the country in question, but something feels off about this.

  5. J. Ferber says:

    But aren’t other sporting events banning Russian players, too?

  6. Amy Bee says:

    I believe this story to be true. Appearance is extremely important to Wimbledon but a better solution would have been to just let the chairman of the club hand out the trophies if a Russian is in the final.

    • Elizabeth Regina says:

      If appearance is so important why did she reportedly wear a dress by a Russian designer to yesterday’s garden party? Such rank hypocrisy.

      • Amy Bee says:

        It has never been confirmed that the dress she wore yesterday was by a Russian designer.

      • notasugarhere says:

        It has never been confirmed it ISN’T from a Russian designer, which is telling. Her stans are desperate to pretend otherwise. No they insist, it is by X British designer (who denied it was her design). No the button count doesn’t look the same, it isn’t Russian. No, the ruffle looks shorter, it isn’t the same dress. They doth protest too much. Fact is, it is *very likely* Russian designer Ulyana Sergeenko.

      • Amy Bee says:

        What was the reason for not disclosing that it was a Russian designer when she first wore the dress?

      • notasugarhere says:

        KP generally does not release info about her clothing. Designers come forward when they feel like it to say she’s wearing their stuff, or stans do some sleuthing and find it out. But this dress? This is straight from the design board of Sergeenko. That Keen’s own staff have now dictated to the Fail that it is ‘from her private dressmaker’? This only confirms it 1) is from Sergeenko and they don’t want to admit it or 2) the design was stolen from Sergeenko and they don’t want to admit it. Either way, it is Russian.

      • Amy Bee says:

        @Notasugarhere: It’s not true that KP doesn’t tell the press what the designer Kate is wearing. They do it at many of her engagements. That information is requested by the Royal rota for their reports. When Kate first wore this dress in 2019 the press was told that it was made by her private dressmaker and it’s not the first time she has done this. The fact remains that it was never confirmed that the dress was made by a Russian designer this was speculated by the fashion bloggers.

      • Saucy&Sassy says:

        AmyBee, the link in a different article posted today is for this dress and it is a Russian designer. If it is different at all, it is very, very minor. Hard to argue when you’re looking at the same dress. I wonder if this article is shading KHate, because she’s wearing a Russian designer’s dress, but won’t do this? Shows she is a hypocrite.

      • Jais says:

        I’ve been going off all day about her wearing a racist Russian designer lol. But now I’m confused. She didn’t wear a dress from that designer but a copy that her “private dressmaker” made of the Russian designer? What’s going on? I’m legit confused.

  7. J. Ferber says:

    Thanks, Amy Bee.

  8. Harla says:

    “By asking her to hand the men’s single trophy….was simply too much to bear”. Are they f@cking kidding?! The constant infantilism of this woman is so gross and hugely embarrassing.

    • Highland pony says:

      When I read articles like this I feel are they shading her

    • Jaded says:

      If rumours are to be believed, Svetlana Ignatieva must be on her “simply too much to bear” list as well.

      • Jais says:

        Svetlana Ignatieva? You mean the chief operating officer of flora and fauna international, the one involved in the “nonprofit” land grab in Belize that was the actual source of the protest? The blond woman that has eyes that v much look like those of the woman photographed in the limo with William after a late night out at Mayfair that definitely wasn’t the blonde wife of so and so? I’m sure they were just meeting late at night at a private members only club to discuss flora and fauna considering William’s expertise on rose bushes.

      • Ugh says:

        @jaded- The blond woman leaving the club with William that night was definitely not Svetlana Ignatieva, you only need to do a cursory brow comparison between the two to see that.

      • Jaded says:

        @Ugh — I did a cursory brow comparison, eye comparison, hair and nose comparison and they are pretty much identical. Good try though.

  9. J. Ferber says:

    If she can bear so little, she’s not fit to be queen. Obviously.

  10. Harper says:

    I guess the Telegraph couldn’t think of a way to work Meghan into the article so instead they decide to trash America by comparing Wimbledon to the … The Masters? The Masters does not have one of the most recognizable women in the world endorsing it so they rely on past winners and this makes The Masters, what? Lesser than Wimbledon because Hello! magazine won’t cover it? What an asinine comparison.

    • Eurydice says:

      It’s so stupid. What does a US tournament have to do with the royal family? Maybe they should compare Wimbledon to the British Open – except, ooops, the royal patron of the golf clubs where it’s played has been Prince Andrew.

  11. Over it says:

    This Kate being a keen tennis everything is all about Kate .look at me I am Kate ffk and I love attention.it’s never been about the players or the sport for her

  12. TrixC says:

    The thing that made me roll my eyes more than anything about this story was the news that she roped Roger Federer into giving Prince George a tennis lesson. I mean, he’s a child, not a professional player, if he wants to learn couldn’t they just find him a regular coach?

    • Cairidh says:

      It was so Kate could meet/flirt with Roger.

    • Blithe says:

      I actually read this more charitably than I usually do — and assumed that George is a fan and Kate made it happen. Of course two things can simultaneously be true.

      • Christine says:

        I do not believe George, or any child, is remotely a fan of 40 year old Roger Federer. This is not how kids work.

  13. Robert says:

    If Wimbeldon is promoting itself as being so recognized because it is a royal patronage. Then what are they going to do if the monarchy is abolished in the next 15 to 20 years. Will that just be the end of Wimbeldon? And when the Queen passes and Charles is totally disliked as King and William is hated even more what is Wimbeldon going to do then. They screwed up and are blaming it on Kate.

  14. Nic919 says:

    Kate wanting to be around famous tennis players from early on also fits with her life scheme of chasing William around in university and after that.

    But she doesn’t actually care about the plight of Ukrainians as is evidenced by her dress at the garden party or the sad biscuits she supposedly made. She only cares about her image. And seeing the efforts made in concealing the fact that the dress was designed by a racist Russian designer, I would not be surprised that a call was made to the tennis association about it.

  15. Eurydice says:

    Ok, let me get this straight. Wimbledon willingly put itself in a position to be downgraded as a tournament because Kate would be uncomfortable handing a trophy to a Russian? Never mind Russians, why would anybody play Wimbledon if they don’t get points? But, hey – Kate’s the most famous woman in the world – I’m spectators will flock to see her grinning at an empty tennis court.

  16. Roo says:

    Who supported this idiotic story? And who was idiotic enough to think it makes anyone look good? My dogs could do a better marketing job than KP!

  17. Christine says:

    I feel like a broken record, but Oprah has been telling me since the 90s when someone shows you who they are, believe them.

    Does anyone actually think anyone involved in Wimbledon wants to talk about Kate, even a little bit, much less protect her image? So why are they now?

    Answer: They got talking points from somewhere. Clearly the same department who came up with, “very much not a racist family” because this is exactly that eloquent.

    • Nic919 says:

      Tennis fans do not give a shit about Kate Middleton. They care about the tennis and not who shows up in the royal box.

      This excerpt was some embiggening fed to them by Buckleberry.