Britain’s Neal Skupski missed out on a fourth grand slam title at the Australian Open.

The Liverpudlian reached the mixed doubles final with American Desirae Krawczyk but the pair, who won the Wimbledon title together in 2021 and 2022, lost out 6-7 (5) 6-4 11-9 to Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Su-wei and Pole Jan Zielinski.

Skupski, who won his first men’s doubles title at Wimbledon last summer alongside Wesley Koolhof, and Krawczyk won the first set on a tie-break and led 4-2 in the second but lost in a deciding tie-break having held one match point.

There was a 19th grand slam title together in wheelchair doubles for Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid, who defeated Japanese duo Takuya Miki and Tokito Oda 6-3 6-2.

It is a fifth title in Melbourne in a row for the all-British duo, who were playing their second match of the day having won a rain-delayed semi-final earlier.

Reid said: “It’s not been easy, it never is easy to win any of them, because there is always strong teams that we’re coming up against. Obviously we’ve got a big target on our back as the guys who’ve been dominating recently.

“I think the numbers are sort of secondary to us. We enjoy them when we hear them afterwards, but for us really I think the key the last few years has been trying to push ourselves as a team, trying to progress the style of play that we bring to the court, and the way that we approach matches.”

Hewett will look to make it a double triumph when he takes on Oda in the singles final on Saturday.

There was also a 15th slam doubles title for Britain’s Andy Lapthorne in the quad division playing with American David Wagner, the pair beating South African Donald Ramphadi and Guy Sasson of Israel 6-4 3-6 (10/2).

Mingge Xu missed out on a place in the girls’ singles semi-finals, the Welsh player losing 6-4 6-3 to Bulgaria’s Iva Ivanova.

Xu and Hannah Klugman were also beaten in the semi-finals of the girls’ doubles, while Viktor Frydrych, playing with Czech Petr Brunclik, lost in the final of the boys’ doubles.

Jack Draper and Katie Boulter have set their sights on being seeded for Wimbledon after losing in the second round of the Australian Open.

Both found themselves up against highly-ranked opponents and were unable to cause upsets, with Draper losing 6-2 3-6 6-3 7-5 to 14th seed Tommy Paul, while Boulter was beaten 6-3 6-3 by 12th seed Zheng Qinwen.

Draper was particularly frustrated having beaten American Paul in both their previous meetings, including last week in Adelaide.

But, although he pulled up well physically from his dramatic first-round match, which he ended vomiting into a bin, the 22-year-old was unable to find his best tennis.

“He definitely came out playing really well,” said Draper. “I think he knew what he was up against. I think I won all four sets against him that I played.

“I definitely feel like I haven’t really got used to conditions this week at all. I just have been struggling to find my level. Obviously when you are playing a top player like that, if they’re playing well, there are very small margins in it. He was the better player today. He deserved to win.”

Draper is impatient to get to the sort of ranking he knows his talent merits, and it appears physically he is becoming more durable.

Being among the seeds at slams means guaranteeing avoiding higher-ranked players in the first two rounds and, having missed much of last season through injury, Draper now has a big opportunity to climb quickly.

He said: “I feel fit. I’m ready to keep going. I’m very motivated to keep getting better.

“So hopefully, by grass, if I keep my form up, if I stay fit, keep giving myself the opportunities to compete, then I’m going to be hopefully seeded for Wimbledon. And that’s kind of my goal now.”

It is the same for Boulter, who was disappointed to lose to Zheng but showed again that she can mix it with the top players.

The 21-year-old Chinese player is one of the game’s up-and-coming stars but the contest was closer than the score suggested.

Boulter will leave Australia with the best win of her career under her belt against Jessica Pegula at the United Cup earlier this month and a lot of belief in her prospects for the rest of the season.

“This trip has been great,” she said. “For me it’s about week in, week out playing these girls, trying to get big wins against the best players in the world. I gave myself opportunities to do that this week. I found myself winning a couple of matches a few weeks ago as well.

“For me, it is a massive step in the right direction. I’m going to keep working very, very hard. I know my game is there. Today it just wasn’t quite there.

“I would much rather play (her) in the third round, the fourth round to get myself into the tournament more and more and be playing on the bigger courts, which ultimately is more about the tennis than the conditions.

“So my next step for me is to challenge myself to get to 32 and push on from there.”

Wimbledon chiefs are hoping Wandsworth councillors will reject the recommendations of planning officers and back their expansion plans at next week’s meeting.

The project, which involves the construction of 38 new courts in neighbouring Wimbledon Park including an 8,000-seat show court, has met with significant protest from some local residents.

The All England Club achieved a major victory last month when Merton Council decided to approve the plans but a smaller section of the site lies within Wandsworth and its planning officers have recommended councillors reject it.

They will meet next Tuesday to make their decision, and an All England Club spokesperson said: “We are surprised that planning officers at the London Borough of Wandsworth have recommended refusal of the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project, particularly after the London Borough of Merton resolved to approve the application following extensive analysis and debate both in their officers’ report and at the planning committee.

“We regret that Wandsworth’s officers have taken a different view but it is for councillors on the Planning Applications Committee to make their own considered decision at the meeting on November 21.

“We firmly believe the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project will deliver substantial social, economic and environmental benefits, including 23 acres of newly accessible green space, alongside hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of pounds in economic benefits for our neighbours in Wandsworth, Merton and across London.”

The new show court drew the most concern from planning officers, who concluded that there were not the necessary very special circumstances to outweigh the harm and loss of open land.

Irrespective of the Wandsworth decision, the project will be referred to the Greater London Authority and its fate could ultimately be decided by the government.

Wimbledon’s bold expansion plans have been approved by Merton Council following a lengthy planning committee meeting which concluded just after midnight.

A 524-page document had already been published by the council which concluded planning permission should be granted, subject to conditions, because of the substantial public benefits of the proposal outweighing harm to the significance of heritage assets.

The All England Club bought the lease of the neighbouring Wimbledon Park Golf Club for a reported £65million in 2018.

Across the site – which also includes Wimbledon Park Lake and a section of Church Road – the AELTC was seeking the go-ahead to build 38 new courts, including a third show court with a capacity of 8,000 seats and retractable roof, as well as designated north and south player hubs while also providing publicly-accessible parkland.

Under the proposals, originally submitted in 2021, the grounds will almost triple in size and allow Wimbledon to host the qualifying tournaments in SW19, rather than their current home a couple of miles away in Roehampton.

Completion is projected for 2030, which will see an increase in the capacity of the championships from 42,000 to 50,000 and also deliver “benefits relating to heritage open space, recreation and community”.

The ambitious scheme, though, has not gone down well with some local residents.

Around 2,000 trees are expected to be removed across some 75 acres of Metropolitan Open Land, which is intended to be protected as an area of landscape, recreation, nature conservation or scientific interest.

A petition to ‘Save Wimbledon Park’ showed more than 13,000 signatures, and there were protests from opposition groups outside the Development and Planning Applications Committee meeting at Merton Civic Centre.

Chaired by Labour and Co-operative Party counsellor Aidan Mundy, the committee heard a number of arguments on both sides – including from the All England Club, local residents, council officers and Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond – which took in environmental, social and economic considerations during a lengthy meeting which lasted for almost five hours.

A final vote eventually came at just after midnight, which saw the recommendation for planning permission to be granted passed by six votes to four.

Following the announcement, someone shouted a protest, apparently from the public seats, with counsellor Mundy asking the person to leave the room and calling for security before the meeting was adjourned.

The proposals will now move on to the next stage of the planning process, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan required to formally accept or reject the decision due to the development taking place on Metropolitan Open Land.

As the northernmost part of Wimbledon Park is within the borough of Wandsworth, the scheme must also be approved by its planning committee.

There is also the possibility of judicial review as a potential obstacle for the development proceeding.

Local residents who oppose the decision could attempt to challenge the lawfulness of the way it was made, on the grounds of illegality, procedural unfairness or irrationality.

A spokesperson for the London Borough of Merton said: “After considering the officer’s report, relevant submissions, and the relevant planning framework, the independent planning committee, made up of councillors from all parties, voted to approve the application made by the All England Lawn Tennis Ground (AELTG) for expansion of its site at Wimbledon.

“There are further stages in the planning process and the land remains subject to covenants contained in the transfer of 1993 from the Council to AELTG.

“Until these covenants are properly addressed by AELTG they operate to restrict the use and development of the land as proposed in the planning application.”

News of the vote was met with disappointment by the Wimbledon Park Residents’ Association (WPRA).

“We are not at all surprised by the outcome of the vote. Most of the inconsistencies in the report were glossed over,” WPRA chair Iain Simpson said.

“Merton did not even bring their own experts into the hearing, and instead relied on the applicant to advise the councillors who were asking the questions. In addition their pronouncements on the environment still ignored their own expert advice where it didn’t suit them.

“On all that was said about the stadium and the buildings, these are still in outline – and outline designs on protected land contravene their own planning regulations. They therefore cannot be discussed in any meaningful way.

“This is just a stage in what will be a long process for which Save Wimbledon Park is well prepared.”

Andy Murray admitted he had to go away and lick his wounds after his Wimbledon disappointment.

The Scot was leading world number five Stefanos Tsitsipas 2-1 in their second-round match when the 11pm curfew kicked in.

It seemed the momentum was with Murray but when the match resumed the following day, the two-time champion was beaten in five sets.

Murray revealed it took a few days to get over the narrow defeat, but he quickly set about working on areas of his game which he could improve.

“I went away on holiday straight afterwards,” he said. “Always immediately after matches, especially Wimbledon, at majors there’s greater disappointment and greater emotions than at any other time in the year.

“Probably after three or four days of being away from it, I chatted to my team about things that I feel I need to change, certain shots in my game if I wanted to win more of those matches and dictate more of those matches.

“So I did that, went away and worked on things for a period of time.”

Murray is likely to face another seed, Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, in the second round of the US Open.

But first the 2012 Flushing Meadows champion must overcome France’s world number 72 Corentin Moutet.

“I’ve not played against him, but I practised with him once, he’s an unbelievably talented guy,” added Murray.

“He’s not the biggest, he tends to play quite long points but he’s got tons of variety and good hands at the net.

“He can be a bit volatile at times but yeah, a good challenge for me, very different to how most players play in the draw.

“A lot of the game nowadays is based on power and serves and he’s the opposite really. A good test for me.”

Murray is one of six Brits in the first round on Tuesday, with Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans, Jack Draper, Katie Boulter and Jodie Burrage also in action.

Ons Jabeur will bounce back from her second straight Wimbledon final defeat by winning a "deserved" grand slam, according to Iva Majoli.

Jabeur was beaten 6-4 6-4 in the Wimbledon showpiece match by Marketa Vondrousova, who claimed her first grand slam and became the first ever unseeded champion at SW19.

The loss was Jabeur's second Wimbledon final defeat in as many years, with the Tunisian world number six still yet to win a grand slam despite reaching three finals in the last two years.

However, Majoli, who won the French Open in 1997 when she beat Martina Hingis in the final to deny her Swiss opponent the Grand Slam, is confident Jabeur will get over her recent disappointment by finally winning a major final.

"I think this loss was tough," Majoli told Stats Perform. "I'm sure everyone was expecting Ons [to win] and I love Ons.

"I think in the end there was maybe too much pressure on her. But from the beginning, I said that it was going to be a tough match.

"I think this loss was probably tougher than the one last year and I think she was expecting a lot from herself and I think she was expecting that she's going to win it. But life writes stories and it's not always how you expect.

"I think she will come back and I really wish she's going to win a slam because she deserves it."

Vondrousova's victory was historic, as she became the lowest-ranked player to win the Wimbledon ladies' title.

She also became the first unseeded woman to reach the final in 60 years.

Asked whether Vondrousova's unlikely triumph was a sign of strength or weakness in the women's game, Majoli replied: "There have been a lot of ups and downs, there have been a lot of wins and then disappearances and then wins again.

"But I think there is a strong young generation coming up. It was great to see Marketa Vondrousova winning.

"Marketa being a lefty is very dangerous. She was playing amazingly the whole tournament. And I always think the left-handers are a danger, like Petra Kvitova. So I would love to see them doing much, much better in the tournaments and in the rankings."

Iva Majoli sees shades of both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic within Carlos Alcaraz.

Spaniard Alcaraz cemented his place as world number one by beating Djokovic in five sets to clinch the Wimbledon title earlier in July.

That marked Alcaraz's second major title following his US Open triumph last year, his sixth crown of 2023 and his 12th tournament win overall.

Alcaraz is often compared to his compatriot Nadal, but Majoli – who won the French Open in 1997 – believes there is an element of Djokovic to the 20-year-old's game too.

Asked which of the 'big three' of Nadal, Djokovic and the retired Roger Federer that Alcaraz can be most compared with, Majoli told Stats Perform: "Rafa was his idol growing up and he's a Spaniard, so I would probably put him as closest to Rafa, but I think he also has some touches from Novak.

"Maybe the least from Federer, but I would say between Rafa and Novak there are many amazing things."

Alcaraz is the figurehead of a new generation of talents.

Majoli added: "Holger Rune is another youngster also in the top five or top six in the world. So I think this could be an amazing battle in the next couple of years.

"But of course, there is also Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud, there are so many players, who are still very young. It's an amazing generation that's going to be led by Carlos Alcaraz."

Djokovic's defeat to Alcaraz at Wimbledon ended the 36-year-old's hopes of sealing the Grand Slam this year, but Majoli still sees him as the greatest.

"He is the GOAT. He is unbelievable. And what he has achieved, I don't know if anyone can ever achieve on all the surfaces of all the tournaments," she added.

"He broke most of the records and he's just from another planet, I say. I still feel that he has a few more grand slams in him.

"[The Wimbledon final] was just an amazing final, very close. It could have gone both ways. I think at the end, Carlos showed the guts and went for the shots.

"I'm sure he was nervous, but he wasn't showing it to us. But the US Open is coming up soon and I think Novak will be another hard one to beat there."

Nadal, meanwhile, is likely to retire next year.

"Where do I start? Winning 14 Roland Garros, I don't think anyone will ever break that record," Majoli said of Nadal's impact on tennis.

"That's probably going to stay in the history of tennis and just what a humble and amazing person he is, and how much he contributes to the world of tennis. It will be his legacy."

Andy Murray will leave a lasting legacy on British tennis after his "historic" Wimbledon exploits when retirement eventually comes, according to Marion Bartoli.

Murray and Bartoli both triumphed at Wimbledon in 2013, the Scot defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets and the Frenchwomen overcoming Sabine Lisicki.

A troublesome hip injury and subsequent surgery has caused issues in recent years for Murray, who also lifted the Wimbledon title in 2016 – adding to his US Open crown four years earlier.

The 36-year-old confirmed before the Queen's Championship last month that he has a period in mind for ending his professional career, leading Bartoli to hail Murray's impact on the sport.

"It's more for British tennis because the buzz when he won Wimbledon in 2013 for the first time was just insane – basically the whole country tuning in to watch that match," she told Stats Perform.

"Even the whole press, who are normally quite harsh with the players, especially the tabloids, were just cheering on for him because it was so historic.

"I can just remember the dinner we had at the Champions' Ball with Andy and his mother and my father and myself and it just felt like dinner with a mother and son, father and daughter, just being on the top of the world and just winning.

"Judy could say 'My son just won Wimbledon' and my dad could say 'My daughter just won Wimbledon' – it was very much that feeling. It was so special."

Murray, who has won two ATP Challenger titles this season, only made it as far as the second round at Wimbledon this month, losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in a battling display on Centre Court.

His appearance at the British major represented another major milestone nevertheless, given injuries seemed set to curtail his playing days after the 2023 Australian Open.

Bartoli added: "For Andy, after all his surgeries and everything, it's about how much he can still enjoy his tennis.

"When he feels that's it, that every day on the practice court is not as enjoyable as usual, and he's dragging himself to practice, that’s when the passion is vanishing and you know it's time [to retire].

"It's not that difficult of a decision when that happens. When you still have that passion and fire but your body doesn't follow anymore, then it's slightly more difficult.

"In many ways, Andy had a second chance. He'd sort of announced his retirement when he lost in the Australian Open and everyone was crying.

"Then he decided to come back and he had those successes and those great matches and epics, so maybe he already feels like he had his second chance.

"He'll walk away with a beautiful family, a business – a hotel, I think, in Scotland where he grew up – so he has so many things to look forward to. I think he'll be a very happy man."

Murray's diminishing influence on the upper echelons of tennis marks a downturn in British fortunes, with Cameron Norrie seemingly the next in line.

"For the British side of tennis – you have Cameron Norrie – but you feel that especially with [Carlos] Alcaraz coming in and all those players it's going to be more difficult to win a slam," Bartoli continued.

"But he's going to have his chance as well. He's close to being top 10."

Rafael Nadal's impact on tennis has been "tremendous" but Marion Bartoli believes he already has a natural successor in Carlos Alcaraz.

The 22-time major champion confirmed he plans to retire next year following a decorated career that has seen him claim nearly every major honour in tennis.

His exit would leave just one of the sport's 'Big Three' left, in Novak Djokovic, following Roger Federer's retirement last year following the Laver Cup.

While Bartoli feels Nadal's legacy speaks for itself, she also suggests the rise of Alcaraz, who took his second grand slam at Wimbledon earlier this month, might mitigate his departure from the world stage.

"[His impact is] tremendous, but in some ways for him, because Alcaraz is Spanish, it almost feels like the torch has been passed," the 2013 Wimbledon champion told Stats Perform.

"[It is] the new generation that is starting to win, starting to be the best in the world. It might feel less like he's leaving tennis.

"Look at Roger. In Switzerland, there is nobody coming after [him]. In Spain, there is already somebody winning. Rafa will probably accept that, but it's never easy to walk away from something you have done for many years.

"That you have been so successful, that is part of your DNA, part of you, something that everybody recognises you for [in] being that amazing champion at Roland Garros."

Bartoli believes Nadal's decision has been made with an eye on the future, and acknowledges that the physical cost of his profession has to be considered.

"It's not easy to say that you're not going to play at Roland Garros again," she added. "That's just what you have to recover from. I think Rafa has been laying out his future really well.

"He's going into business, he's a father now. He has so many things to look forward to, but he has to preserve his body enough, so he doesn't have pains that stop him from living normally.

"As an athlete, when you walk away from your career, you don't want to have damaged your body so much that you can't even enjoy normal things in normal life.

"Rafa is at that point where he has to think whether it's worth giving it a final go or whether it's not worth it because it will damage his body long term."

Elina Svitolina's return to the WTA Tour has been nothing short of "extraordinary" following her break to become a mother, believes Marion Bartoli.

The former world number three took a break from tennis last year in order to have her first child, who was born in October.

Since making her return this year however, she has shown no signs of rust, winning the Strasbourg Open before a quarter-final finish at the French Open and a last-four appearance at Wimbledon.

With a rich vein of form behind her, Svitolina looks in contention for the season-ending WTA Finals later this year and Wimbledon champion Bartoli has been left impressed by her comeback.

"All I know is you [disturb] your sleeping pattern because your baby's waking up during the night [and] then of course you're a lot more tired during the day when you have to go through your training," she told Stats Perform.

"Obviously, your body's changing through pregnancy as well. To find her athleticism again and get yourself into shape, she has done it so quickly.

"She was so fit at Roland Garros [and] she was I thought even fitter at Wimbledon. For me, it's just really extraordinary to see her physically that fit and that match ready so soon.

"I would not be surprised to see her do extremely well in the US Open and actually qualify [for the WTA Finals]. I will not be surprised at all to see her ending up in the top eight at the end of this year."

Svitolina's form comes amid a wide-open tour where several of the world's best players are jockeying for success, while returns to the court for Naomi Osaka and Caroline Wozniacki have also caught headlines.

Bartoli believes it is an exciting time to follow the game, adding: "I think we are in for a great WTA Tour. We have the comeback [from] Naomi Osaka, we have the comeback of Caroline Wozniacki, which is really exciting.

"Victoria [Azarenka] [came back] super strong after pregnancy as well, and Ons Jabeur, she was so close to winning a grand slam. You have the feeling that it's not going to take too long before she wins her first.

"I think we have a lot of stories to tell. If those girls can stay on top, I think we're in for a good one."

Novak Djokovic's status as the greatest of all time is unharmed despite his Wimbledon final defeat, says Marion Bartoli.

Djokovic's hopes of winning a fifth straight Wimbledon title and a joint-record eighth overall were ended by a superb performance from Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won in five sets to clinch a second grand slam despite only turning 20 in May.

Now 36, Djokovic has won 23 grand slams, more than any other male player, and though he missed the chance for a record-extending 24th at SW19 last weekend, Bartoli maintains his position as the greatest ever cannot be questioned. 

"If you have three or four more grand slams than anyone else, how can you even start the conversation?" she told Stats Perform. "The conversation is over.

"You can sort of go into more details with the surface but overall, especially when you look at the head-to-head and we know that Novak is leading the head-to-head against Roger [Federer] and against Rafa [Nadal].

"We know he's leading on the weeks at number one in the world. We know he has won all the grand slams three times and even more. You know, we know all those numbers. So then, what else do you need?"

For all of Djokovic's success, he has not always proved the most popular of players, in stark contrast to his 'Big Three' rivals Federer and Nadal.

Bartoli does not feel this plays into the conversation of who is the best ever and believes Djokovic can continue to challenge for grand slams in the coming years despite his advanced age. 

"If it's then how much you're liked by the crowd," Bartoli said. "That is something that is, you know, not a fact. That's purely an emotion, so you can't judge based on emotions.

"Even now, when you split the first three grand slams [of 2023] only with two players [Djokovic and Alcaraz], it's fair to say that the rest of the field is not quite at the same level as them, so Novak can sustain that level [at the top for longer]."

Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic are clearly ahead of the rest of the men's singles field, but Marion Bartoli believes both can be caught.

Alcaraz denied Djokovic a fifth straight Wimbledon title last weekend with a stunning five-set victory at SW19, to secure the 20-year-old Spaniard a second grand slam title.

As a pair, Alcaraz and Djokovic have now won the last five grand slams stretching back to last year's Wimbledon, and Bartoli feels they are far ahead of the chasing pack.

The former Wimbledon champion however suggests that gap could motivate others to work on their own game in order to catch up.

"Very much, when you look at the first three grand slams [of 2023], it's clear that there is Novak, Carlos and the rest and there is quite a gap between those two and the rest," she told Stats Perform.

"That's quite obvious with the results. That said, I think that's going to push them to sort of catch back just like Novak did with Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal].

"With [them] having more Grand Slams than him and wanting to be part of the conversation, that just pushed him to elevate his level.

"I think it's going to be the case on the ATP. I don't think the guys are going to look at Carlos and Novak saying 'Oh my god, they're just untouchable, and we're going to lose to them'.

"I think they're going to really try hard. Especially I can see [Holger] Rune, I can see [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, I can see [Daniil] Medvedev, all those and [Jannik] Sinner, being very eager and very hungry to just go and chase.

"I'm sure they can actually push them to work harder on their game to come up with something even better. So I don't see it as a runaway completely and there is no opposition.

"I think maybe it's going to take a little bit of time before they reach that level, but I just don't think it's going to be that easy in a way for Novak and Carlos to just win everything without having a say from the other players."

Bartoli, who won at SW19 in 2013 before retiring in 2018, believes Alcaraz has taken the best qualities of the 'Big Three' of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer and feels he is one of those spearheading a new era in tennis.

"In the eras before, when you look at Pete Sampras, and all those players, it was one way to play and then if you would take that play away it was a lot more difficult for them," she explained. 

"If you take Alcaraz for me, what is very interesting is he has almost the best of Novak, Roger and Rafa combined and that is new. I think it's very much sort of total tennis, when you feel there is just not one department that maybe is lacking a little bit.

"There is a lot of players from this or sort of the past generation that are not that complete, who are really going to suffer against those new kids like Alcaraz, Rune and Sinner who are coming in and just having nothing you feel that they could really do better.

"In that sense, I think that's going to be the new sort of tennis we will see for the next 10 to 20 years."

Ukraine Tennis Federation (UTF) chief executive Evgeniy Zukin sees no issue with Ukrainian players refusing to shake hands with Russian or Belarusian opponents.

The Wimbledon crowd booed Victoria Azarenka when she did not shake Elina Svitolina's hand on Centre Court earlier this month.

It left Belarusian Azarenka bemused, as she was respecting the wishes of Ukraine's Svitolina.

While Zukin was disappointed to see that reaction from the crowd, he also stressed there are more important matters at play than players not shaking hands after a match.

Zukin told Stats Perform: "It's really hard to explain to everyone in a 10,000-seater court what’s going on, what kind of conflict is happening and how everything is connected.

"I was at that match and I didn’t like how the crowd reacted but it clearly shows they don't understand. But if they would like to know, they would know.

"Any kind of statement from the tournament or the WTA, you cannot be sure everybody understands or everybody gets the message – it's just a strange situation.

"We were living in a strange time of COVID but it's nothing compared to this. I don't see it as a big problem that not everyone understands what's going on.

"Whatever the player's position – you cannot make exceptions in this case, because we’re in a war with Russia and Belarus.

"We didn't start it and simply it's not going to be comprehended by the Ukrainian society if our players shook hands with their opponents.

"Some spectators may not like it but this is how things are. We have so many worse things going on than this no-handshake thing. We are spending too much time on things that don't matter too much."

Zukin and the UTF do not believe Russian or Belarusian athletes should be allowed to compete amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Indeed, heading towards the Paris Olympics next gear, Zukin believes Ukraine will boycott the competition should Belarusian and Russians be allowed to feature, even under a neutral banner.

"We don't think it's fair that during the war, Russians or Belarusians are accepted in any way or any kind to the Olympics," he said.

"We know they are funded by their state, they are not neutral. Any success by a Russian or Belarusian athlete will be used by Russian propaganda to show their superiority and we're absolutely against them taking part until the war is over.

"Maybe if the war is over before the Olympics, this position changes. But when people are dying every day, it's not normal. When you attack one of the countries in Europe and you're playing sports, it's normal?

"We have the same position on this: they shouldn't play while the war goes on. It's going to be the IOC's [International Olympic Committee] decision whether to allow them to compete then the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee will have its decision about participating or not at the Paris Olympics."

Asked if he would be disappointed for Ukrainian tennis players should the nation choose to boycott the Games, Zukin added: "It's going to be taken out of our hands and their hands as it's the Olympic Committee who endorses all of the applications.

"In case it makes a decision not to send a team, then it's impossible to send just tennis players. We completely respect this. Russia and Belarus are banned from all tennis team events, their membership from the ITF is suspended.

"The Olympics is a team competition so it would not be normal to let them compete there. Of course it's the NOC's decision but the chances are really low that Ukraine would participate if Russia and Belarus participate."

Elina Svitolina is an inspiration to female tennis players and women around the globe, says Ukraine Tennis Federation (UTF) chief Evgeniy Zukin.

Svitolina reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon before going down to Marketa Vondrousova, beating world number one Iga Swiatek en route to matching her best performance at a grand slam.

The 28-year-old, who gave birth in October 2022, previously reached the last four at Wimbledon in 2019 and at the US Open in the same year.

Having progressed to the quarters at this year's French Open, Svitolina seems back to her best, and Zukin is thrilled to see it.

When asked if Svitolina was an inspiration to Ukrainian athletes as the country's war with Russia rages on, Zukin told Stats Perform: "Yes, of course.

"I think this is the biggest sporting result lately for Ukraine. Our Under-21 football team also did well, reached the semi-finals of the European Championships, but on the big stage, this is the biggest achievement of a Ukrainian athlete in my opinion – of course I'm a little biased on this.

"This is amazing – quarters in Paris, now semis in London, after giving birth, is an incredible achievement from any perspective."

Asked if Svitolina's return from her hiatus was proof women can come back from pregnancy and perform at a high level, Zukin said: "Exactly. Now we hear that [Caroline] Wozniacki is coming back, [Naomi] Osaka is coming back and this is good – just for women, not athletes.

"It shows that you should give birth, you should come back to your previous business and it’s achievable and doable – this is the main message.

"It's really great, there cannot be a better message."

Zukin does not believe Svitolina should feel the pressure to win a slam, adding: "Nobody knows what's around the corner. Every athlete just wakes up every day and tries to be better than yesterday – this is the main thing.

"If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t happen, it's still an amazing career anyhow, an amazing achievement.

"One by one, day by day and then if it comes, it’s great. If it doesn't come, it's also great. There's no pressure at all in my opinion."

Zukin has known Svitolina since she was a child, and while he no longer has consistent contact with her, he says she is an inspirational figure off the court too.

"She's an independent professional, she has her own team and charity fund and agents and all her entourage is with her all the time," he said.

"I've known her since she was 11, when I was a tennis referee, refereeing tournaments where she played, and I know her older brother from when I was a player.

"She's a nice person and it's good that she tries to do something more than just tennis with her charity fund, with representing Ukraine on the world stage and delivering the messages that are really needed for Ukrainians right now.

"She's an incredible ambassador for Ukraine and Ukrainian tennis."

Marketa Vondrousova must follow the example of Elena Rybakina to ensure her shock Wimbledon success results in becoming a top-10 regular, according to Marion Bartoli.

The 24-year-old became the first unseeded player to win the women's singles at Wimbledon with a shock straight sets victory over favourite Ons Jabeur in the final.

Vondrousova had previously reached the French Open final four years ago but had endured a tumultuous period since due to injuries and inconsistent form, while grass was seen as her weakest surface.

Her victory is the latest in a long line of shock major wins in the women's game, with Bianca Andreescu and Emma Raducanu among the others to cause upsets in recent years.

But the lack of a dominant group of players in women's grand slams is not a big concern to Bartoli, who made two Wimbledon finals in her career, winning once.

She has urged the crop of recent major winners, including Vondrousova, to take up the challenge of proving their successes were not flukes.

Bartoli cites the example of 2022 Wimbledon champion Rybakina, who is now ranked three in the world and reached the last eight this year before losing out to Jabeur, as one to follow.

"I don't see it as an issue – there is nothing you can do about it," Bartoli, who won Wimbledon in 2013, said to Stats Perform when asked about the recent trend in grand slams.

"I mean, you just can't say to a player, 'Oh, but why don't you win every single grand slam like Serena Williams?' All those [top-ranked] girls are trying their hardest when they're on the court, sometimes they're losing when they should have won, like Ons losing that final. 

"But it's not like you can go and say to her 'Oh, yeah, but why don't you try harder?' She tried her heart out on the court and tried absolutely everything to win. It just didn't happen. 

"You have new names, some newcomers are coming and winning, it was the same when Raducanu won her first grand slam, it was the same when Andreescu won.

"Now it's Marketa winning her first. It was slightly more of a shocker when Raducanu won because she came from the qualification. That was an even bigger story and then to become this £20million girl that gets all those contracts in the UK. She was into US Open qualifying and then three weeks later she was a mega superstar.

"Was tennis different back then when I was playing? Of course. Then you had 15 or 20 names who were coming back all the time. 

"It was extremely difficult just to get yourself inside the top 20 or into the top 10 because you had Serena and Venus, Kim Clijsters and all the Russians, you just didn't have the space. 

"But I like those news stories. I like those fairytale stories. I just hope that those girls can now stay there. 

"For Marketa [I hope] that she can bring that level constantly so she can be a face in the top 10 and people can come back to Wimbledon next year and say ‘OK, I know her now, she's top five, she has done this, she has this result somewhere’, like Rybakina in some ways. 

"Rybakina won last year but she came back this year and she was top three, so it's not like she was a fluke. 

"So if those breakthrough girls can now say 'I'm still part of the conversation, I'm coming back and I'm top five or top 10' then we are in for a great WTA Tour."

Vondrousova is the sixth unseeded player to win a grand slam title in the last decade, after Jelena Ostapenko, Sloane Stephens, Iga Swiatek, Barbora Krejcikova and Raducanu.

Bartoli feels it will take a while for the magnitude of her win to sink in, particularly when it was so unexpected. Vondrousova had only won four matches on grass before the tournament.

She added: "It's difficult to actually soak it in that quickly – for me, it took several days, even several weeks to be able to really understand what I just achieved, especially when you win for the first time.

"For Novak [Djokovic] or Roger [Federer] or all those players who have won Wimbledon on multiple occasions, then it almost becomes normal for them. Of course there is the happiness of achieving winning another grand slam, but it's not as much as a big deal as when it's your first one or your first Wimbledon in the case of Carlos Alcaraz.

"Especially for Marketa Vondrousova, being unseeded, it was completely unexpected for her to have that sort of run and being the total outsider in the final and coming out, playing great tennis and winning in straight sets as well.

"At the beginning of the tournament, no one would have thought to put her into the top five or top 10 contenders to go and win the title, and it is even more of a surprise after all the injuries she suffered.

"But all credit to her. She had some really tough matches, when you really have to push yourself that much you absolutely deserve to win your first grand slam title." 

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