Tennis

Sharapova denied French Open wildcard, WTA slams decision

Misery compounded for Russian as she withdraws from Italian Open match due to injury

Maria Sharapova will not compete at the French Open later this month after being denied a wildcard by the French Tennis Federation (FFT), but WTA chief executive Steve Simon condemned the reasoning for her snub.

The Russian, a two-time champion at Roland Garros, was informed that her request for entry into the forthcoming Grand Slam following her recent return from a drugs ban had been rejected yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Sharapova has competed at three events since returning to competitive tennis following her 15-month suspension for testing positive for meldonium, a sanction that was reduced from two years by the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS).

However, she was not able to get enough ranking points to secure an automatic place in qualifying for the Paris tournament, with FFT chief Bernard Giudicelli hinting that the rejection was due to her recent ban.

MISSION

He said during a live Facebook broadcast: "It is my responsibility and my mission to protect the game and protect high standards of the game played without any 'doping' on the result, so that is our decision."

However, WTA chief Simon insists the FFT is not in a position to hand Sharapova further punishment.

He said: "Wildcards are offered at tournaments' sole discretion. I fully support the players that received wildcards 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.

There are no grounds for any member of the TADP to penalise any player beyond the sanctions...WTA chief Steve Simon, insisting that the French Tennis Federation is not in a position to hand further punishment to Sharapova

"The tennis anti-doping programme (TADP) is a uniform effort supported by the Grand Slams, WTA, ITF and ATP.

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

Sharapova's day went from bad to worse as she was forced to retire injured from her second-round clash at the Italian Open in Rome, having took to the court just 30 minutes after Giudicelli's announcement.

That early exit against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, which came in the third set where she was a break up, means that she can no longer secure a place in the main draw at Wimbledon, although she is already assured of entry into qualifying at SW19.

The All England Lawn and Tennis Club could even hand the 2004 champion a wildcard for direct entry into the tournament, something the FFT opted against. - PA SPORT

tennisFrench OpenMaria Sharapova