“Russian troops kill, rape and torture, so…”

Former world number 31 Sergiy Stakhovsky urged Russian and Belarusian players to speak out about what is happening in Ukraine. Last month, Britain’s sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, proposed that Russian players be required to sign some form of declaration that they openly side with Vladimir Putin or they will be banned from competing at Wimbledon.

Many called the proposal dangerous, arguing that exposing Putin publicly could endanger Russian players and their families. Wimbledon ultimately decided not to go this route, but still banned Russian and Belarusian players from participating in this historic tournament.

Stakhovsky told the Daily Mail: “You can’t be neutral. If they’re afraid of financial repercussions or a night in jail, I’m sorry, but it’s better than a rocket falling on your doorstep.”

Stakhovsky on the Wimbledon decision

Stakhovsky, who shook eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer at the All England Club in 2013, admitted he was surprised by Wimbledon’s unshakeable position.

He said: “I can’t say it was a happy reaction, but I think it’s something that needs to be done. In the first two weeks of the war I was more relaxed about it, thinking that each individual should be judged according to their position, but we know how Russian troops behave in occupied cities.”

“We know what they can do: murder, rape, torture. So I’m sorry, now I have a different opinion. To be honest, I was a bit surprised because [Wimbledon] has a very strong position that I did not expect.

But of course I thank you for your decision, because I don’t think we can do anything else at this point. It is a tournament that has always had its own rules. White clothes and things like that always had different rules because it’s a private club.”

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