Maria Sharapova Denied Entry Into French Open Due To Doping Ban, Retires From Italian Open
Maria Sharapova denied entry into French Open
Bernard Giudicelli, the president of the French Tennis Federation, announced the decision via Facebook Live after telling Sharapova in person.
“I decided not to give Maria Sharapova a wild card. I’m very sorry for Maria, very sorry for her fans. They might be disappointed, she might be very disappointed,” Giudicelli said. “But it’s my responsibility, it’s my mission to protect the game and protect the high standards of the game.”
Sharapova, 30, returned to competitive tennis in April following a 15-month suspension for a doping violation. She received wild-card entries into the main draw of regular tournaments in Stuttgart, Germany, as well as Madrid and Rome.
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The Russian is a two-time French Open singles champion: she won Roland Garros in 2012 and 2014. This year’s tournament begins on May 28 in Paris.
“She has handled her suspension with dignity and respect,” added Giudicelli. “But nonetheless, though there can be a wild card after an injury, there cannot be one for a return from doping. So it is up to Maria day after day, tournament after tournament, to find alone the strength she needs to win the big titles without owing anything to anyone.”
Sharapova, who boasts titles at all four majors, was criticized by several other tennis stars, including Angelique Kerber, Andy Murray and Genie Bouchard, the last of whom said Sharapova had cheated by doping and also slammed the International Tennis Federation for allowing the Russian to compete again.
Others, however, seem to support Sharapova and believe disqualifying her from entry into any of these tournaments is excessive.
“I believe every tournament should give her a main draw wild card, and I think the safest play is to give her a wild card into the qualies,” Justin Gimelstob, a Tennis Channel analyst and member of the ATP board of directors, said on Monday. “I’m very concerned this new president is going to try to make a statement and shut her out of the tournament. If he does that, it’s a huge travesty and a mistake.”
Novak Djokovic, a longtime friend of Sharapova’s, said there is not much anyone can do about the French Tennis Federation’s decision.
“Whoever, you know, runs the French Open is in charge of the French Open, and they can make a decision that they think is the most appropriate,” said the top-ranked Serb. “Must be tough for her, but it’s the way it is. In some tournaments she’s going to get that help in wild card and invitation. Some not. Unfortunately, it’s a Grand Slam, which is for sure for her a big one. But it is what it is.”
The ITF initially suspended Sharapova from tennis in June 2016 for two years after she tested positive for the banned substance meldonium at last year’s Australian Open. In October, her suspension was reduced to 15 months starting from the date of the failed test (January 26, 2016).
Sharapova defeated American Christina McHale in the first round of the Italian Open on Monday and has now secured a spot in Wimbledon, a tournament the Russian won in 2004.
On Tuesday, however, Sharapova withdrew from her second-round match in Rome against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni with a thigh injury after leading 4-6, 6-3, 2-1.
The Russian stepped off the court for an injury timeout during the second game of the third set and returned with her left thigh taped. She officially retired approximately 2.5 hours after Giudicelli announced her suspension.
Sharapova did not hold a press conference following Tuesday’s match and issued a statement that addressed her injury but not her ban from the French Open.
“I apologize for having to withdraw from my match today with a left thigh injury,” she said. “I will be getting all the necessary examinations to make sure it is not serious. I want to thank the tournament for giving me the opportunity to play this special event again.”
Roger Federer, meanwhile, announced Monday that he will bypass the French Open, a clay-court tournament, in order to focus on grass-court play.
Caption:MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 22: Maria Sharapova of Russia plays a backhand in her third round match against Lauren Davis of the United States during day five of the 2016 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 22, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
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