PARIS — The idea by the men’s and women’s tennis tours was to take a strong stand against Wimbledon’s decision to keep out players from Russia and Belarus, then let tennis and competition move the conversation away from politics and the invasion of Ukraine.
It has not worked out that way.
On Monday, the second day of the French Open, the politics of tennis and Russia reared its head once more. The professional tours’ announcement Friday night that they would not award rankings points this year at Wimbledon, essentially turning the most prestigious event in tennis into an exhibition and punishing players who did well there last year, has roiled the sport, igniting a sharp debate over the game’s role in a deeply unpopular war and dominating the conversation at the year’s second Grand Slam.
Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine spoke emotionally about the invasion, saying it has made her care little about winning or losing. Iga Swiatek, the world No. 1, talked of the sport being in disarray. Naomi Osaka, one of the biggest stars, said she was leaning toward skipping Wimbledon if the decision not to award rankings points for match victories there stands.
“I feel like it’s not united,” Swiatek said after defeating Tsurenko, 6-2, 6-0, in her opening match while wearing a Ukraine pin on her cap, as she has for the past three months. “It’s all the people who are organizing tournaments, like, for example, WTA, ATP and I.T.F., they all have separate views, and it’s not joint. We feel that in the locker room a little bit, so it’s pretty hard.”