Poland is one of Ukraine’s strongest allies in its war against Russia. The geopolitical tension is consistently finding its way into the world of tennis. Most recently, a Polish ATP Challenger tournament publicly stated that players from Russia and Belarus were not welcome, and Russian WTA star Vera Zvonareva was denied entry into Poland due to being perceived as a threat to state security and public safety.
Last year, Wimbledon made headlines when it banned Russian and Belarusian players from competing due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While the WTA and ATP aim to maintain a focus on the sport and keep politics at bay, the nationality of tennis players remains a burning topic.
The Kozerki Open, a Polish ATP Challenger, has taken a bold stand by asking players from Russia and Belarus not to participate in the August 14-19 tournament. The public announcement pointed out that players from these two countries would not be welcome. Later on, they removed that footnote from the tournament website. Right now, the tournament only expresses support for Ukraine by featuring their flag and sympathizing with the Ukrainian struggle for life and freedom.
The latest instance of Poland’s hostility towards Russian tennis players happened in the case of Vera Zvonareva, when the former WTA world No.2 was denied entry into the country as she was arriving to play the July 24-30 BNP Paribas Warsaw Open. Even though Zvonareva had previously worn a “no war” slogan on her visor during the Miami Open in March 2022, Poland’s interior ministry said she is among people considered “undesirable” in the country.