Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Sharapova denied wild card for French Open

The chief executive of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), Steve Simon, has criticised the surprising decision to deny returning three-time Grand Slam victor Maria Sharapova a wildcard for the upcoming French Open.

She tried to put up a courageous face by tweeting a somewhat philosophical comment, insisting that "no words, games or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams". "And I have many".

Many of Sharapova's rivals have hit out at other tournaments giving her preferential treatment, but WTA chief executive Steve Simon called the actions of the French federation (FFT) "groundless", in a strongly worded statement backing her.

On Tuesday, FTF president Bernard Giudicelli explained over a live Facebook broadcast his reasoning for not granting Sharapova a wild card, saying it was to "protect the game". "I'm very sorry for Maria, very sorry for her fans", Giudicelli said. "But it's my responsibility, it's my mission to protect the game and protect the high standards of the game".

Giudicelli dropped the bombshell shortly before Sharapova, who tested positive for heart disease drug meldonium at last year's Australian Open, was due to face Croatian veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the Italian Open in Rome.

The Florida-based Russian won the last of her five grand slams in Paris three years ago but her chances of adding to that tally in the coming months have been boosted by the absence of a pregnant Serena Williams, who has won their last 18 meetings, including three major finals.

Relief in India as United Nations court orders Pakistan not to execute Jadhav
London-based Barrister Rashid Aslam said Pakistan was ill-prepared and did not utilise the 90 minutes it had to make its argument. It also hit out at India, saying the country has been "trying to hide its real face" by taking the case of Jadhav to the ICJ.

Maria Sharapova's fate for a main draw entry at Wimbledon also lands in the hands of the authorities.

Nadal suggested that the decision was made well ahead of its announcement and would have been taken as a strategy move by the 35-year-old's coaching team.

So he decided not to award her a wild card for the French Open.

On Tuesday, Simon said Sharapova had already served her punishment and should not be further sanctioned by the French Open. She's qualified for the Wimbledon qualifying rounds but can still be handed a wild card when the decision is made on June 20. The tennis anti-doping program is a uniform effort supported by the Grand Slams, WTA, ITF, and ATP.

Her comeback, though, has been controversial and has often met with opprobrium from fellow players, notably Eugenie Bouchard. At 6-1 odds, she had been the second-favorite at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook - behind Simona Halep (9-2) - to win this year's French Open, which begins May 28.

However, after an appeal, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found she was not an "intentional doper" and reduced the suspension to 15 months.

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