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Toni Nadal: Wimbledon abuses its authority

The uncle and ex-coach of Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal criticizes the British tournament for seeing itself as too “special” to follow the standard seeding rules

Wimbledon uses a seeding system based on performance on grass courts.
Wimbledon uses a seeding system based on performance on grass courts.Tony O'Brien (REUTERS)

The fact that Wimbledon defines its own rules and submits players to arbitrariness with its own seeding system is a long-standing issue. So we aren’t surprised by the controversy of the current season.

A few years ago, there was absolute subjectivity at Wimbledon. They decided their own order, solely and exclusively according to their own assessments. In 2000, thanks to the intervention of Álex Corretja, they were forced to change their criteria, and since then have applied a mathematical formula that evaluates a tennis player’s performance on grass-court tournaments over the past two years. Which means, let’s not fool ourselves, that the situation is the same: they continue to do whatever they like.

Wimbledon feels it has the right to do as it pleases because it sees itself as different, special and prestigious

When it is an individual who refuses to submit to the laws that the rest follow, we see them as inconsiderate, perhaps even antisocial. But if it is an association, club or institution from whatever field, with power and prestige, that takes the law into their own hands, the issue becomes more serious. We are talking about an abuse of authority.

Those who do their own thing on the grounds of their supposed uniqueness, demonstrate a certain air of superiority that is striking in our times. Wimbledon feels it has the right to do as it pleases because it sees itself as being different, special and prestigious. The rest of the Grand Slam tournaments also have their peculiarities, their beauty and their reputation, and they take pride, above all, in treating the players well, or in other words, in being fair to them and meeting the norms established by the Association of Tennis Players (ATP), the regulator of the world circuit. These tournaments could also insist on applying their own rules.

Wimbledon’s inconsideration is not so much against the tennis players, or Rafael in the case of this year, who are affected by its particular decisions, but rather against a highly professional world that has norms that everyone follows to the letter. Everyone except Wimbledon. It’s not good for an organization to believe it has the authority to act independently from the rest. If all the clubs that hosted an event were allowed to do the same, we would face complete upheaval, not at all recommendable for the progress of our discipline.

The rest of the Grand Slam tournaments take pride in treating the players well

What’s reprehensible is not their rules as such, but the disrespect they show to the rest of the tournaments that do admit ranking classifications. Wimbledon should not try to stand out, showing off its difference, when these imply it is placing itself on a higher level. The times in which the powerful were able to take liberties or make capricious decisions have had their day. Nobody should continue with traditions that go against the rules that everyone must follow.

I believe that Wimbledon has shown a continuous effort to renew and improve many aspects without jeopardizing the beauty of the British tournament. They take extreme care with protocol. Beginning each season with the same controversy can only be detrimental to Wimbledon’s prestige, and invites disregard from the other tournaments.

That would be a great shame.

English version by Melissa Kitson.


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