Maria left hanging on french open wild card

Maria Sharapova serving during a training session on the clay courts of Stuttgart ahead of her controversial return to competitive tennis after a doping ban. The Russian has met with disapproval for being allowed to make her anticipated return here.
Maria Sharapova serving during a training session on the clay courts of Stuttgart ahead of her controversial return to competitive tennis after a doping ban. The Russian has met with disapproval for being allowed to make her anticipated return here.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Decision to be announced next month, no exceptions made for two-time Roland Garros champ

PARIS • Maria Sharapova will know on May 16 if she will be granted a wild-card invitation for the French Open, the organisers of the May 28-June 11 tennis Grand Slam tournament said yesterday.

"We will make our decision public on Facebook on May 16 at (7pm local time)," French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli told a news conference.

"There is no reason why we should make an exception for Maria Sharapova. There is no reason why we should announce a wild card before the others."

Giudicelli said he will discuss the matter with tournament director Guy Forget on May 15.

Former world No. 1 Sharapova, 30, will return to action early this morning (Singapore time) from a 15-month doping ban after being awarded a wild card for the Stuttgart claycourt tournament.

"The tournament (French Open) is bigger than the players," said Giudicelli, who added that he would call Sharapova before the decision is made public.

With 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams already out of the picture because she is expecting a child, the tournament would be deprived of the other big name of women's tennis if the borganisers decided not to invite Sharapova, a two-time French Open champion.

Giudicelli, however, said this would not be a factor.

"This is not a cast. This is not a rock opera," he said.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Sharapova is likely to be given a wild card into the qualifying stages at Roland Garros rather than the tournament's main draw.

In addition to Stuttgart, Sharapova has been granted wild cards by the organisers of the events in Madrid and Rome too.

The Russian's invitation for the Stuttgart tournament raised eyebrows in the tennis community, with Romanian Simona Halep, who was defeated by Sharapova in the 2014 French Open final, saying: "For the kids, for the young players, it is not okay to help with a wild card the player that was banned for doping.

"It is not about Maria Sharapova here, but it is about all the players that are found doped."

Women's Tennis Association chief Steve Simon defended Sharapova, saying she does not need to be punished more than she already has.

"You have to look at how other leagues and tours have handled players who have come back," Simon told BBC Sport.

"They come right back to the team and start playing.

"She is starting at ground zero. It is going to affect her seedings in big tournaments so she's still going to pay a penalty for a while.

"If you think about it from other leagues, most of the bans are half of a season or a full season. She's had a year and a half."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2017, with the headline 'Maria left hanging on french open wild card'. Print Edition | Subscribe