A Russian-born tennis player has changed her citizenship to Georgia to compete at Wimbledon later this month.
Doubles star Natila Dzalamidze, currently ranked 43rd in the world, is now listed under the Georgia flag on the WTA website. The move comes after Wimbledon banned all Russian and Belarusian players from participating in this year’s Grand Slam due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Belarus supported the invasion.)
Dzalamidze competed in the French Open under a neutral flag. During her birth in Moscow, the WTA said that Dzalamidze presented a Georgian passport, because she has dual citizenship.
“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 Wimbledon spokesperson said in a statement to The Times. via CNN.
The All England Club announced in April that it would ban players from Russia and Belarus from participating in the tournament later this month in response to the war in Ukraine. Although the tournament was one of several that responded with similar sanctions as a result of the Russian invasion, it faced a significant backlash.
As a result, the WTA and ATP tours chose not to award any Wimbledon rating points this year.
Because of the ban, many big names will not attend – including top-ranked men’s player Daniil Medvedev and women’s sixth-seeded player Aryna Sabalenka.
Dzalamidze played with Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik in the French Open in mixed doubles and with Camila Rakhimova in the women’s doubles competition.
Wimbledon is scheduled to start on June 27.
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