Russian-born Natela Dzalamidze changes nationality to Georgian to compete in Wimbledon

A Russian-born women's tennis player has changed her nationality to avoid the ban that Wimbledon placed on all Russian players in the wake of the country's invasion of Ukraine.

Natela Dzalamidze, 29, was born in Moscow, but is listed on the WTA Tour website as having a Georgian nationality. She is a doubles specialist and currently holds the world's No. 43 ranking.

In a statement issued to The Times, a Wimbledon spokesperson said they could not halt Dzalamidze from changing her nationality.

"Player nationality, defined as the flag they play under at professional events, is an agreed process that is governed by the Tours and the ITF," the spokesperson told The Times.

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The All England Club announced in April that it was banning Russian and Belarusian tennis players from competing in Wimbledon, marking the first tennis event to bar individual athletes from competing.

"Given the profile of The Championships in the United Kingdom and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of Government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit Russia's global influence through the strongest means possible," the All England Club said in its announcement. "In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships."

The WTA and ATP professional tennis tours responded to the All England Club’s ban by announcing they would not award ranking points to any players for results at Wimbledon.

At the French Open in May, Dzalamidze had completed under the neutral flag.

Wimbledon is set to begin June 27.

Contributing: Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Natela Dzalamidze, of Russia, changes nationality to play in Wimbledon