Two-time French Open winner and former world number one, Maria Sharapova learnt on Tuesday this week that she had been denied a wildcard to play at this year’s Rolland Garros that gets underway on May 28th.
The 30-year old Russian international was too low in the rankings to earn a direct entry into the annual competition as she continues her recovery journey from a 15-months ban.
It should be remembered that Sharapova was banned for 15 months after testing positive for heart disease drug meldonium at the Australian Open in 2016. However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport found that she was not an intentional doper.
"There can be a wildcard for the return from injuries - there cannot be a wildcard for the return from doping,” Bernard Giudicelli Ferrandini, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) chief said in defence to having denied Sharapova a wildcard.
“I'm very sorry for Maria, very sorry for her fans. They might be very disappointed, she might be very disappointed, but it's my responsibility, my mission, to protect the high standards of the game played without any doubt on the result," he added.
However, the decision was not welcomed by the Women’s Tennis Association saying that there are no grounds to penalise the five-time Grand Slam winner.
"I don't agree with the basis for their decision. She has complied with the sanction. There are no grounds to penalise any player beyond the sanctions set forth in the final decisions resolving these matters," WTA chief Steve Simon said.
Wildcards are given at the discretion of tournament organise to either play in the main draw or the qualifying tournament.