Andrey Rublev says he felt he “didn’t deserve” the support of the Wimbledon crowd because he’s Russian.
Rublev, 25, missed last year’s tournament with his compatriots and all Belarusian players as Wimbledon imposed a ban in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
When he returned this year, he reached the quarter-finals and on Tuesday the center court crowd got their feet up on more than one occasion as they tried to beat him against Novak Djokovic.
After pulling out in four sets, Rublev said he was “grateful” that the British public supported him, especially considering where he comes from.
“I felt a very good support during all these two weeks. Also today. To be from the country where I am, to have this support, it’s special. I don’t know, sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve it or something. To get it, I don’t know… I don’t know what it takes to get that support. I’m really grateful for that.
Since the war broke out, Rublev has been one of the main Russian voices opposing the conflict. In fact, the night before the invasion began in February 2022, he wrote “no war please” on a camera lens after his game in Dubai.
When asked if he felt guilty for being from Russia, Rublev said no: “No. I don’t know what to say. I’ve made so many statements. I think my opinion is very clear, so it’s not guilty. It’s more just that the situation is terrible. Of course, you don’t wish this on anyone. You want these terrible things to be over as quickly as possible for all people in the world. world just to have a chance to have a good life.
Rublev’s comments followed a tense weekend at Wimbledon. On Sunday, Belarusian Victoria Azarenka was booed off the pitch after losing to Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, with the crowd apparently unaware that it was Svitolina who had waived their handshake.
While other players on last year’s banned list had nasty moments with the crowd, Rublev had nothing but good feedback.
On the eve of Wimbledon, he told Telegraph Sport he was happy the tournament was providing additional support for Ukrainian players competing here and also said he had received support from fans before arriving at the Championships.
“Being here this year, I felt grateful,” Rublev said on Tuesday. “I’m happy that I was able to have two very good weeks of tennis. I’m happy that I was able, I think for the first time, to give my best in the quarter-finals so far compared to all the other quarterbacks I’ve been in. This one, I’m proud of myself for the first time.”
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