Shamil Tarpishchev believes it is "logical" that Russians compete at the French Open ©Getty Images

Shamil Tarpishchev, the President of the Russian Tennis Federation (FTR), has insisted that the continued involvement of Russian athletes in major tennis competitions is more important than membership of the national governing body.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) suspended the membership of the FTR, and the Belarus Tennis Federation, on March 1 following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and both organisations are barred from competing in all affiliated international team competitions.

This includes the 2022 Davis Cup and the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup.

However, the ITF jointly agreed with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) that competitors from the two countries should be allowed to compete on the tours under neutral status.

Tarpishchev, an International Olympic Committee member, declared that their athletes’ participation in ATP and WTA events is the priority.

"In fact, we [the Russian Tennis Federation] have been suspended for two months now, we have been living like this since March," he told Russia's official state news agency TASS.

"But [in this situation] the main thing is not us, but that our tennis players are performing, albeit in a neutral status.

"Everyone understands who they represent."

Russia’s Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatsev competed in the men’s singles at the Madrid Open as neutral athletes.

Ekaterina Alexandrova, Varvara Gracheva, Anastasia Potapova and Daria Kasatkina of Russia and Belarus’ Victória Azárenka were among the list of neutral athletes to participate in the women’s singles event at the competition.

Andrey Rublev is one of the athletes who will be impacted by the All England Lawn Tennis Club's move to suspended Russian and Belarusian competitors ©Getty Images
Andrey Rublev is one of the athletes who will be impacted by the All England Lawn Tennis Club's move to suspended Russian and Belarusian competitors ©Getty Images

Controversy has stirred after the All England Lawn Tennis Club decided to bar Russian and Belarusian athletes from this year’s Wimbledon.

Rafael Nadal of Spain, who has won a record 21 men’s singles Grand Slam titles, Serbia's Novak Djokovic, 20-time Grand Slam winner, and three-time Grand Slam champion Sir Andy Murray of Britain criticised the decision, claiming their exclusion is unfair.

Russia’s men's world number two Daniil Medvedev and world number eight Rublev and Belarus' women’s world number four Aryna Sabalenka are among the players likely to be impacted.

Ukrainian former tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky, who retired in January and joined the Ukrainian Army after the full-scale invasion begun, responded to Nadal’s claim that it was not fair the impact the war has caused on Ukraine’s population.

"Please tell me how it is fair that Ukrainian players cannot return home?” Stakhovsky wrote on Twitter.

"How is it fair that Ukrainian kids cannot play tennis?

"How is it fair that Ukrainians are dying?"

 The French Open has taken a different policy to Wimbledon’s organisers and have permitted the inclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes.

Tarpishchev told TASS this was a "normal decision and the sole correct one" as it was individuals competing and not countries.

"This is an official policy of both the ATP and the WTA," the former tennis player said.

Shamil Tarpishchev, left, coached Russia to the Davis Cup title last year ©Getty Images
Shamil Tarpishchev, left, coached Russia to the Davis Cup title last year ©Getty Images

"From this standpoint all is logical.

"The sole cataclysm that has happened was at Wimbledon, although sports must stay away from politics."

The ITF decided that Australia will replace Russia for the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup as they were the highest-ranked losing semi-finalist in 2021.

Russia had automatically qualified for this year’s finals after claiming the title last year.

Slovakia, who were anticipated to play Australia in the qualifiers in April, received a bye to the 2022 Finals.

Belgium have also obtained a bye due to being scheduled to face Belarus.

For the Davis Cup, defending champions Russia were switched for Serbia - the highest-ranked losing semi-finalist in the 2021 edition - while Belarus were replaced by Mexico.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has reported that 3,309 civilians have been killed and 3,493 injured since the invasion began, though it noted the actual figures are likely to be considerably higher.

The global organisation’s human rights experts and the Global Protection Cluster Coordinator have also insisted that almost 12.8 million Ukrainians have been displaced with 7.7 million people internally displaced in the country.

Millions more have reportedly escaped to neighbouring countries.