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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Natela Dzalamidze has made headlines at Wimbledon due to the fact that she has switched her nationality from Russian to Georgian in order to compete at the Championships in 2022.

Tennis Express

Russian and Belarusian players have been banned at Wimbledon this year, but Dzalamidze, the WTA’s 45th-ranked doubles player, had her official documentation cleared in early June and is set to play at Wimbledon in the women's doubles draw.

She spoke to DW about her decision last week.

Dzalamidze says that most of the hate messages she has received on social media has actually come from Georgians that assumed she is using the nationality just to play Wimbledon, with the intention to switch back to Russian citizenship later.

But being half Russian and half Georgian, she says it is not the case.

"Most of them thought I was just trying to take advantage of the situation for Wimbledon before switching back to the Russian federation afterwards,” she said. "My first name is Russian, but my last name is not. I'm half Russian. In Russia, everyone understands that I'm not completely Russian when they see my name, which comes from Georgia."

Dzalamidze says she made her decision after the war broke out. She hopes to play in the Olympics for Georgia in 2024.

She cannot comprehend what it is like to be Ukrainian in a time like this, but adds that it is unfair to subject Russian athletes to hate for a situation they have nothing to do with.

"I don't want to make excuses for what's going on in Ukraine but for us athletes it's unfair to be subjected to this general prejudice," she said. "In the beginning I felt ashamed to have a Russian passport but later I thought: 'I’m a good person why am I feeling like this?'

"For many years I worked hard to achieve my goals as an athlete and then because one person decided to start something terrible, I'm supposed to forget about my life and career?"