Russian-Born Tennis Player Changes Nationality to Avoid Wimbledon Ban

Russian-Born Tennis Player Changes Nationality to Avoid Wimbledon Ban
Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia (R) and Natela Dzalamidze of Russia talk tactics in their first round doubles match against Shuko Aoyama of Japan and Ena Shibahara of Japan during day three of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, on Jan. 19, 2022. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Lily Zhou

A Russian-born tennis player will be competing at Wimbledon this month despite its ban on Russian players after changing her nationality to represent Georgia.

Natela Dzalamidze, 29, who is ranked 43rd in the world in women's doubles, appears on the championship's ladies' doubles entry list (pdf) as Georgian.
She competed at the French Open last month under the neutral flag as players were banned from competing under the name or flag of Russia or Belarus.

In an email to The Epoch Times, a spokesperson for the All England Club, which hosts the prestigious grass courts tournament, said, "Player nationality, defined as the flag they play under at professional events, is an agreed process that is governed by the Tours and the ITF [International Tennis Federation]."

According to The Times of London, the club said it wasn't involved in Dzalamidze’s nationality switch. The publication said the verification process was conducted through the Women’s Tennis Association and the ITF and would have required a valid Georgian passport.

The Wimbledon tennis championship is due to be held between June 27 and July 10.

In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the All England Club and Wimbledon's management committee said on April 20 that it would decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to the 2022 championship, saying, "In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships."

Chairman Ian Hewitt said at the time that the club had considered alternative measures, but decided to ban Russian and Belarusian players because of "the high profile environment of The Championships, the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime, and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety."

As a result, Russian player Daniil Medvedev, ranked number one in the world in the men's singles, will be missing from the grass courts.