Professional athletes frequently have corporate sponsorships that provide financial support for their careers, and tennis players are no exception. However, sometimes those sponsorships can come with controversy, as is currently the case with Russian tennis player Veronika Kudermetova‘s affiliation with Tatneft.
Tatneft is Russia’s fifth-largest oil and gas company which has been sanctioned by the European Union for supplying the Russian army with tyres in the context of its invasion of Ukraine. This has led to criticism of Kudermetova for promoting a company that supports the war.
Despite this criticism, there are currently no rules in place preventing Kudermetova from continuing to wear the Tatneft logo on the Hologic WTA Tour. However, if she plans to compete at Wimbledon in July, she will have to sign a neutrality declaration, which would prohibit her from displaying such sponsorships during matches.
In order to enter the grass-court Grand Slam, Russian and Belarusian players will have to agree not to support their states, regimes and leaders and accept not to receive funding from their states, including sponsorship from companies operated or controlled by them. Athletes who violate the neutrality declarations could face various consequences, including fines or expulsion from the tournament.
British journalist James Gray first brought attention to the issue surrounding Kudermetova’s sponsorship with Tatneft. Before his tweets, nobody was even thinking about the company behind the logo on the Russian’s apparel.