Two-time French Open Champion Maria Sharapova was denied a wildcard into the French Open, even to the qualifying rounds, which put an end to all the speculations over her spot in the clay court slam.
French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli, while announcing the wild cards via Facebook Live, said that it was a difficult decision to deny Sharapova a spot in the tournament. “While it’s true that the CAS has reduced her sanction, it is still a violation of the tennis antidoping program,” Giudicelli added. “CAS reduced her sanction but also recognized that Maria was the only one responsible for her misfortune. It is not for me today to question that decision. I respect and we should respect the decision that was first taken by the International Tennis Federation’s independent tribunal and then considered on appeal by CAS.”
The 30-yr old Russian, currently ranked 211th in the world, failed to automatically qualify for the French Open when she lost against Kristina Mladenovic in the semi-finals of the Stuttgart Open and could not secure enough ranking points to qualify for the clay court slam.
Anticipating potential backlash the French Open would receive for being considered to condone the use of banned substances or condoning doping itself, the French Open organizers had been quite skeptical about awarding the wildcard to Sharapova.
Following her return, Sharapova has received wildcards into numerous tournaments which includes Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Mutua Madrid Masters and the ongoing Italian Open.
Andy Murray was among a number of top players who has criticized a potential wildcard but said that tournament organizers will “take their own decisions.” Jo-Wilfred Tsonga also criticized the same when he said it was like “giving candy to a baby that has sinned.”
After the announcement on Tuesday, The New York Times has reportedly quoted a “smiling” WTA player who said “Ninety-nine percent of players are against her, just afraid to say that.”
Russia’s most decorated player has however secured a place in the qualifying events of the Wimbledon with her first round victory over Christina McHale and if she manages to reach the semi-finals in Rome, she can expect to qualify for the Wimbledon main draw on her own merit.
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