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By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, May 16, 2017

 
Maria Sharapova

The French Tennis Federation has denied Maria Sharapova a wild card into the Roland Garros main draw and qualifying.

Photo credit: Roland Garros/FFT

Maria Sharapova can forget Paris.

The two-time Roland Garros champion was denied a wild card into this month's French Open.

More: Kyrgios Withdraws From Rome

The 30-year-old Sharapova, who has received wild cards into Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome, was expected to receive a wild card into Roland Garros qualifying.

However new French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli, who personally discussed the issue with Sharapova in a March meeting in California, said today the tournament will not award Sharapova a wild card into the main draw or qualifying during a Facebook live announcement.









It was a double dose of pain for the former Rome champion.




Sharapova, who was playing Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in Rome when the announcement was streamed over Facebook, suffered a left thigh injury that forced her to retire from that match holding a 4-6, 6-3, 2-1 lead. Sharapova learned of the decision before she took the court.




The 211th-ranked Russian, who launched her comeback in Stuttgart where she reached the semifinals, is ranked too low to gain direct entry into the clay-court major.

WTA CEO Steve Simon disputed the FFT's reasoning in a statement.

"Wild cards are offered at tournaments’ sole discretion," Simon said in a statement. "I fully support the players that received wild cards and wish them the very best of luck. It’s going to be a very exciting fortnight at Roland Garros.

"What I do not agree with is the basis put forward by the FFT for their decision with respect to Maria Sharapova. She has complied with the sanction imposed by CAS. The tennis anti-doping program is a uniform effort supported by the Grand Slams, WTA, ITF, and ATP.

"There are no grounds for any member of the TADP to penalize any player beyond the sanctions set forth in the final decisions resolving these matters.”

Earlier this spring, The FFT president said it’s hypocritical for tennis to tout investing millions in anti-doping measures then serve up wild cards to players who have been banned for doping.

“We can't invest a million and a half Euros in the fight against anti-doping and then invite a player sanctioned for the consumption of a prohibited product,” Giudicelli told L’Equipe. “It's complicated. We prefer that she returns completely rehabilitated.

“Integrity is one of our strong points. We cannot decide, on the one hand, to increase the amount of funds we dedicate to the anti-doping battle and, on the other, invite her.”

Sharapova was initially hit with a two-year ban after testing positive for the banned substance meldonium after her 2016 Australian Open quarterfinal loss to Serena Williams. She appealed that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which shortened her suspension to 15 months.

Several prominent players—including Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska, Kristina Mladenovic, Dominika Cibulkova and Genie Bouchard—have publicly stated opposition to the five-time Grand Slam champion receiving wild cards.

World No. 1 Andy Murray spoke against his fellow Head endorser receiving wild cards in March. Murray told The Times he believes players banned for doping should not be be rewarded with wild cards upon their return.

"I think you should really have to work your way back," Murray told The Times. "But most tournaments will do what they think is best for their event. If they think big names will sell more seats, they're going to do that."

The Wimbledon champion said All England Club officials will “think long and hard” about giving Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champion, a wild card into the main draw. Sharapova can gain direct entry into Wimbledon qualifying. 

"She has an opportunity to try to improve her ranking up until that point and potentially not need a wild card," Murray told The Times. "But then if she doesn't, that becomes Wimbledon's decision and how they want to play that. I'm sure they'll think long and hard about it and how they feel people will view it and then make the right decision for them."

 

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