Sharapova denied entry as clay court season reaches its climax

Maria Sharapova is poised to move back into the top 200.

By HAYDEN WAUGH

Former world No.1 tennis player Maria Sharapova won’t be lighting up the clay courts in Paris, after she was this week denied a wildcard entry.

French Tennis Federation (FTF) president Bernard Giudicelli confirmed that the Russian tennis player was overlooked for both main draw and qualifying admission at the French Open. 

Announcing the decision on Facebook Live, Giudicelli said a wildcard entry “cannot be granted from a return of doping”. 

“I’m very sorry for Maria and very sorry for her fans that might be disappointed,” Giudicelli said.

“But it’s my responsibility, my mission, to protect the game and to protect the high standards of a game played without doping.” 

WTA Tour’s CEO Steve Simon, in a statement released by the WTA, criticised the decision.

“What I do not agree with is the basis put forward by the FTF for their decision with respect to Maria Sharapova,” Simon said.

“She has compiled with the sanction imposed by (Court of Arbitration for Sport) CAS.

“There are no grounds for any member of the (Tennis Anti-Doping Programme) TADP to penalise any player beyond the sanctions set forth in the final decisions resolving these matters.”

It’s a bitter blow for the Florida-based Sharapova, who returned to the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour in April after serving a doping violation. 

The initial two-year ban for using meldonium was downgraded to 15 months, after a successful appeal in October 2016.

Sharapova in March last year, announcing that she had failed a doping test.

The move was seen as controversial after Sharapova was earlier granted a wildcard into WTA tournaments in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome.  

The decision came hours after Sharapova retired hurt from her match against 35-year-old Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. After clutching her left thigh during the deciding set, she conceded defeat at the Italian Open.

Following a first-round victory in Rome, Sharapova is poised to enter the top 200.

Her recent string of positive on-court results has paved the way for a possible qualifying spot at Wimbledon in late June.

Since returning to the game, Sharapova has had her fair share of critics, including Canadian Eugenie Bouchard – who recently labelled her a cheater.

“She’s a cheater and I don’t think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport again,” the world No.52 told Turkish broadcaster TRT World.