Yugoslav Tennis Star Nikki Pilic, whose suspension by the International Lawn Tennis Federation has led to a boycott of the Wimbledon Championships by most of the world's top male players.
SV Pilic at airport
CU Smith speaking
CU Ashe speaking
GVS Wimbledon ext. & No. 1 Court (3 SHOTS)
CU N??? speaking
STAN SMITH: "Just about all the players here that..er...unless there's some evidence that proves Nikki guilty that er...to be suspended...then...er we're going to stick by what we said. (INDISTINCT QUESTION) Well there was no vote taken...but there weren't any dissenting votes in the room."
REPORTER to Ashe: "What would you do, what would the Wimbledon authorities have to do to make you play."
ASHE: "Well the Wimbledon authorities cannot make us play. In fact no tournament in the world, no tennis event can make anyone play. There have been attempts as we heard this morning which we thought were fairly clandestine and...er...slightly dirty of having national associations put pressures on individual members. What the public...and the administration...doesn't seem to realise is that we are professional athletes...with a mind of your own...you know...you're born of a free will, you can play or you can not play...Our fight is not with Wimbledon, let's make that clear. It just so happens that the Wimbledon fortnight coincided with Nikki Pilic's ban. It would have been any one of fifty-two weeks of the year."
NASTASE: "Well my association called the International Federation.. they tell me I've to play so I Just have to play so I just have to go like this. It's not my er...I don't decide myself, they just call and tell me to play."
REPORTER: "Have you informed the other members of the players' association that you are going to play?
NASTASE: "Well ..ere not everybody, but I tell some of them and...er... I'm just sorry that I can't stay with the players but it's the way life is."
REPORTER: "How did they react when you told them you were going to break their boycott on Wimbledon?"
NASTASE: "Well...er...you know it's 98 players and I'm the only one who don't play so I think they feel bad."
Initials BB/0537 BB. 0525
SPORT - TENNIS
NOTE TO EDITORS: We also draw your attention to our Prod. No. 5904/73: U.K. TOP MALE TENNIS PLAYERS TO BOYCOTT WIMBLEDON OVER PILIC SUSPENSION, also serviced today.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Yugoslav Tennis Star Nikki Pilic, whose suspension by the International Lawn Tennis Federation has led to a boycott of the Wimbledon Championships by most of the world's top male players. left London's Heathrow airport to return home on Wednesday (20 June).
He said he was very sad about the whole affair which he felt could have been avoided. He would return at a moment's notice if things were resolved.
Among the players who are boycotting Wimbledon are defending champion Stan Smith. The only top seed to play is Rumanian Ilie Nastase, now favoured to take the men's singles title. He first said he wouldn't play but, after speaking to his National Federation, said he'd changed his mind. This film includes interviews with Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe and Ilie Nastase by BBC reporter Wendy Fisher. The transcript follow: