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Justin Gimelstob banned from competing in Wimbledon legends event after assault conviction

Simon Briggs
Justin Gimelstob will not be allowed to sit in the All England Club's Royal Box - PA

The All England Club has responded to the assault conviction of ATP board member and commentator Justin Gimelstob by banning him from both the Royal Box and the “legends” invitational event. Telegraph Sport understands that discussions on whether to issue Gimelstob a credential at all are ongoing.

Gimelstob had appeared in Wimbledon’s doubles invitational, which also features the likes of Martina Navratilova and Mark Philippoussis, every season since 2010. But AELTC’s swift move – which is reminiscent of the treatment handed out to Ilie Nastase after he verbally abused the British Fed Cup team two years ago – was the first reaction to the verdict handed down at Los Angeles's Airport Courthouse on Monday night.

The former doubles champion – who reached the semi-finals of the Wimbledon mixed event with Venus Williams in 1998 – was charged with felony battery by the Los Angeles district attorney, but avoided trial by offering a “no contest” plea. Gimelstob’s two employers, the ATP and the Tennis Channel, had been waiting on the legal process to finish. Now they must decide how to respond.

“You’ll be pleading guilty to a felony,” Judge Upinder Kalra told Gimelstob on Monday night, as he sentenced him to 60 days of community labour, three years’ probation and a year of anger-management therapy. “I’ve indicated that I’m going to use my discretion to reduce it to a misdemeanour, but even as a misdemeanour this charge has consequences.”

Earlier, the court had heard witness impact statements from venture capitalist Randall Kaplan, a friend of Gimelstob’s ex-wife Cary, and Kaplan’s wife Madison.

Gimelstob has been a regular in Wimbledon’s doubles invitational Credit: getty images

Kaplan testified that Gimelstob had attacked him from behind in front of his wife and two-year-old daughter while they were out trick-or treating on Hallowe’en last year. “It was beyond petrifying – I have never been so scared in my entire life,” he said. “I thought my skull was going to crack open… I was punched more than 50 times.”

Kaplan said that he had experienced concussion symptoms for more than four months, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. But his wife suffered even more seriously in the aftermath of the attack, as she miscarried only a few days later.

“Thankfully my husband survived, but our unborn child did not,” Madison Kaplan told the court. “My doctors said everything had looked perfect with the pregnancy before the attack. The only reason they could see causing the miscarriage was the stress from the attack. Justin might not have gotten his wish in killing Randy, but he did kill a tiny innocent little baby girl.”

The tennis world will be watching to see whether the ATP and the Tennis Channel follow Wimbledon’s lead. After the harrowing details that emerged during Monday’s hearing, his future in the sport remains uncertain.

In a statement, the ATP said that his position could be reviewed by either his peers on the board or the player council. Even before this legal case , Gimelstob was already due for a re-election vote by the player council – which is chaired by world No. 1 Novak Djokovic – in Rome on May 14.

Before that, though, it seems likely that a different vote will be held at board level. According to ATP by-laws, it would need all five of his peers to unanimously agree before Gimelstob could be removed for bringing the ATP into disrepute.

The three tournament representatives – Gavin Forbes, Charles Smith and Herwig Straka – would almost certainly vote against Gimelstob, who was already unpopular even before this verdict because of his prominent role in orchestrating the ousting of ATP president Chris Kermode last month.

But the stance of the two other player representatives – who both declined to comment when contacted by the Telegraph on Tuesday – is likely to be more favourable. Both Alex Inglot and David Egdes backed Gimelstob’s coup by voting against Kermode last month, and Gimelstob has previously referred to Egdes – a fellow Tennis Channel employee who attended his wedding in 2012 – as his “BFF”, or “best friend forever”.

When contacted by the Telegraph, a Tennis Channel spokesman said “We are sure that Justin is pleased that this matter has been resolved.  Since he took his leave of absence from Tennis Channel in November 2018, we have been waiting for the legal system to run its course.  Now that this is behind him, we will have internal meetings among our executives — and meetings with Justin — to discuss his future with Tennis Channel.”