Britain’s top players at Wimbledon stick to tennis on UK election day

LONDON (AP) — Some of Britain’s top tennis players are avoiding election talk like double-faults at Wimbledon.

Polls opened Thursday morning in the U.K.’s first national election in almost five years, but Britain’s rising stars are sticking to the tennis at the All England Club.

Jack Draper says he has no interest in politics. Katie Boulter doesn’t want to talk about it. A smiling Emma Raducanu claimed on election eve that she “didn’t even know it was tomorrow.”

The 22-year-old Draper, who is Britain’s highest-ranked men’s singles player, gave a one-word answer — “No” — when asked if he’s interested in politics.

In a big day for British players on Thursday, Draper faces Cameron Norrie in a second-round match. He didn’t plan on following any election coverage.

“I mean, it’s a crazy busy time for us tennis players. There’s not much TV watching. There’s not much time to sort of be thinking about that,” he said on Tuesday. “Obviously it’s really important, so we’ll see.”

Boulter, the top-ranked women’s singles player in Britain, has turned away a couple of election-related questions.

“To be honest I’m here to focus on the tennis. I’m not necessarily sure what the correlation is between the two,” she said on Saturday in a pre-tournament news conference. “Of course it’s a huge moment for our country, but I will cross that bridge a little bit later away from the tennis courts.”

On Tuesday, the 27-year-old Boulter had a similar response when asked if she’ll be voting before her match Thursday against compatriot Harriet Dart.

Hundreds of thousands of people had cast their ballot by postal vote before in-person voting began Thursday. Polls close at 10 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Thursday night.

Now 21 years old, Raducanu wasn’t eligible to vote in the 2019 national election.

The 2021 U.S. Open champion was asked about the election at her news conference after beating Elise Mertens 6-1, 6-2 on Wednesday. She was asked if she will try to vote in the morning and if she will track the election into the evening.

The transcript of her answer said she was smiling when she responded: “No. I think I’ll have a lie-in, then I’ll come to practice. I didn’t even know it was tomorrow, to be honest. Thanks for letting me know.”

In a pre-tournament news conference Saturday, she indicated that she was aware of the election, though she didn’t offer an opinion about it.

“I have been living a bit under a rock the last few weeks,” she said. “I’ve been just focusing on my tennis. I haven’t really had time to do much else. I’ve channeled all my energy into that. Yeah, the elections are happening. So are the Euros. I think that brings a lot of fun and brings everyone together. I will be following that though tomorrow afternoon.”

Andy Murray, a two-time Wimbledon champion who will be on court in doubles Thursday, took some criticism in 2014 when he signaled his support for Scottish independence just hours before the polls opened. That referendum failed.

British player Liam Broady, who has always been outspoken on political issues, said he voted by mail. He’s from Stockport just outside Manchester.

“I don’t think there are hardly any players that really are politically inclined as much as I am or if they are, they keep their cards close to their chest,” the 30-year-old Broady told The Associated Press. “It’s not something that I see, to be honest, spoken about very often, which I guess is probably a good thing as well. The players just treat each other as players, and that’s that.”

The Conservative Party has been in power since 2010, and the Labour Party is widely expected to win Thursday.

“It’s very similar to how it is in the States at the moment — you’re picking the best of a bad bunch,” Broady said. “I think that’s why a lot of my own generation and people younger than myself have become a little bit disillusioned with politics. It kind of feels like everybody’s the same now, things don’t really change.

“It’s a two-party sort of problem in the U.K. at the moment and obviously with the Labour Party going so central it kind of feels like there aren’t really many different options.”


AP tennis:

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