Wimbledon chiefs have denied Maria Sharapova was left out of their Centre Court centenary celebrations because she is Russian — insisting not all one-time champions were included.
Sharapova was a notable absentee from Sunday’s parade of champions, which included 26 former winners, 12 of whom had just one Wimbledon title to their name.
While the All England Club would not confirm if the 2004 champion was invited, they claimed they only asked one-time winners who they knew would already be at the tournament or did not have far to travel.
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However, more curiously, no footage of her iconic win as a 17-year-old in the 2004 final against Serena Williams was included in the montages of great Centre Court moments that were shown during the 40-minute ceremony.
The All England Club again denied Sharapova’s omission from the films had anything to do with her nationality, claiming the montages were not long enough to include every past champion.
Players from Russia and Belarus were banned from this year’s tournament because of their war with Ukraine, but that ruling did not extend to people who may have had other roles at the Championships.
Sharapova was contacted for comment.