Tennis: Don't give Sharapova VIP status: Radwanska

Sharapova
Sharapova

Russian does not deserve French Open wild card, despite absence of pregnant Williams, insists Pole

WARSAW • Former world No. 1 women's tennis player Maria Sharapova should not be fast-tracked into next month's French Open as she returns from a doping ban, insists Polish rival Agnieszka Radwanska.

With double French Open champion Sharapova currently unranked, all eyes will be on the French Tennis Federation (FFT) next month when it decides whether or not to hand the 30-year-old a wild card into the tournament.

Sharapova makes her comeback to the WTA Tour after 15 months out in Stuttgart next week, after gaining a wild card, and has also been given invitations to play in Madrid and Rome.

Roland Garros organisers will be wrestling with the moral conundrum surrounding a wild card - or free entry into the French Open - given that Sharapova is the biggest attraction in women's tennis right now, and arguably much needed given the absence of Serena Williams who earlier this week announced her pregnancy.

Regardless, Radwanska believes entry to the year's second Grand Slam would be a step too far.

PERSPECTIVE ON DOPING BAN

(She will play) in Germany, next in Spain, but so far she hasn't been invited to play at Slams in Paris and London and in my opinion that's how it should remain.

AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA, who is opposed to giving wild-card entry to Sharapova.


SHE SHOULD PLAY HER WAY BACK IN

She wouldn't have a chance for (a wild card) from my hands (if I was a tournament director).

RADWANSKA, echoing the thoughts of men's world No. 1 Andy Murray.

"(She will play) in Germany, next in Spain, but so far she hasn't been invited to play at Slams in Paris and London and in my opinion that's how it should remain," world No. 8 Radwanska told Poland's sports daily Przeglad Sportowy.

"She should win her place thanks to good results."

Sharapova was originally banned for two years following a positive test for the newly-banned drug meldonium at last year's Australian Open but the sanction was reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Last week she criticised the International Tennis Federation for not doing enough to warn her that meldonium - a product she had used legally throughout her career to combat health issues - had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances in late 2015.

Sharapova, 30, is likely to receive a lukewarm reception in Stuttgart next week with several players, including another former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, also questioning whether she should have received a wild card.

Men's world No. 1 Andy Murray has also voiced his disapproval about the return of Sharapova, who was caught out by the sport's anti-doping laws after failing to realise that meldonium, previously legal, had been added to the banned list.

"I'm not hiding my views. I think the same as Andy Murray," Radwanska, who has beaten Sharapova only twice in 15 attempts, told the newspaper. "This kind of entry into the tournament should be available only for players who were dropped in the ranking due to injury, illness or other random accident.

"Not for those suspended for doping. Maria should rebuild her career in a different way, beginning with smaller events. She wouldn't have a chance for (a wild card) from my hands (if I was a tournament director)."

Sharapova's hopes of playing in the tournament she won in 2012 and 2014 could rest with FFT president Bernard Giudicelli who last month said the decision was "complicated".

The absence of three-time winner Serena Williams could be a factor as the women's game is short on big personalities. A decision is expected on May 15.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'Don't give Sharapova VIP status: Radwanska'. Print Edition | Subscribe