Wimbledon will give Ukrainian refugees free tickets to the tournament’s ‘Middle Sunday’ and donate £250,000 pounds ($395,722) to those affected by Russia’s invasion of the country, the organizers of the grass-court Grand Slam said on Friday.
Following the invasion, Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarusian players from the tournament, resulting in the men’s ATP Tour and women’s WTA Tour taking away its ranking points.
Russia describes its actions in Ukraine as “special military operation” while Belarus is a key staging area.
Ukrainian refugees in the boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth as well as their sponsors and charity delivery partners will be eligible for tickets, the All England Club and the Lawn Tennis Association said.
The donation of £250,000 will be made to the Tennis Plays for Peace initiative and the British Red Cross Ukraine Appeal on behalf of Wimbledon, which begins on Monday.
“On the eve of The Championships I believe it’s important that we acknowledge those that are suffering so greatly due to the unrelenting conflict imposed upon Ukraine,” LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd said in a statement.
Wimbledon will be a 14-day tournament from this year, with matches scheduled on Middle Sunday, traditionally a day off, as organizers no longer need a whole day to get the courts back into shape due to improved technology.
Middle Sunday is also known as People’s Sunday because, on some occasions in the past, tickets have been made available on general sale on that day when rain delays have resulted in some matches being postponed.
“They [Ukrainian refugees] will be joined on Middle Sunday by local residents, COVID heroes from the NHS and social care, and a variety of schools, charities and community groups,” the two associations said.