Russian tennis player changes nationality to compete in Wimbledon

  • Wimbledon has banned Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the 2022 tournament.
  • A Russian tennis player has changed her citizenship to Georgian so she can compete at Wimbledon next week.
  • Natila Dzalamidze told Insider that she is dual national and that the change would allow her to compete in the 2024 Olympics.

A Russian tennis player changed her citizenship a week before Wimbledon, allowing her to compete in the tournament.

29-year-old Natella Dzalamids is set to compete alongside Serbian player Aleksandra Krunic in the women’s doubles at the prestigious Grand Slam tournament. She is ranked 44th in the world in women’s doubles.

Wimbledon banned players from Russia and its ally Belarus from competing in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, but the tournaments were powerless to stop Dzalamidze.

Dzalamidze told Insider that she already possessed a Georgian passport and had dual citizenship.

She said she had discussed changing citizenship with the Georgia Tennis Federation years ago, adding, “This decision was made because I have the opportunity to represent Georgia at the Olympic Games in Paris,” which is scheduled for 2024.

She said she would not have been able to do that with Russia because “their team is so strong”.

The International Tennis Federation has certified Dzalamidze’s Georgian passport ahead of last week’s Wimbledon entry deadline, The Times of London reports.

“A player’s nationality, defined as the flag under which they play in professional events, is an agreed process governed by the Tours and the ITF,” a spokesperson for the All England Lawn Tennis Club which hosts Wimbledon told Insider.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club, the International Tennis Federation and the Women’s Tennis Association did not immediately respond to an Insider’s request for comment.

Eurosport reports that Dzalamidze competed under a neutral flag at the French Open.

Wimbledon ban criticized

The AELTC announced in April that players from Russia and Belarus would be banned from Wimbledon, which begins on June 27.

“It would be unacceptable for the Russian system to benefit from the participation of Russian or Belarusian players in the tournament,” the federation said in a statement at the time.

The move received mixed reactions and was criticized by players as well as the ATP and Women’s Tennis Association, which are responsible for the men’s and women’s tennis tours respectively, Insider’s Will Martin reported.

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