Maria Sharapova being snubbed by French Open 'groundless'
Last Updated: 17/05/17 4:20pm
The Women's Tennis Association believes the French Tennis Federation's refusal to grant Maria Sharapova a wildcard for the French Open is "groundless".
The former world number one was told on Tuesday that, despite serving her 15-month ban for doping, she would have to miss the second Grand Slam of the season.
Announcing the decision, FFT president Bernard Guidicelli said he was sorry for Sharapova but added "it is my responsibility and my mission to respect the high standards of the game to be played without any doping".
WTA chief executive Steve Simon took issue with the FFT's tough stance on the two-time French Open champion in a strongly worded statement.
While acknowledging that wildcards were granted at a tournament's discretion, Simon said: "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 Court of Arbitration for Sport).
"The tennis anti-doping program (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, on Wednesday, responded to the news by reaffirming her intention to come back to the top of the game in the coming months following the decision by the French Open organisers.
The five-time Grand Slam champion was banned for two years for using meldonium, with the penalty later reduced by CAS which ruled she was not an intentional doper.
After the ban expired on April 26, the Russian returned to competition at the Stuttgart Open, reaching the semi-finals, and progressed to the last 32 of the Madrid Open, too late to earn herself a qualifying spot for Paris.
She is guaranteed a qualifying spot at Wimbledon in July after winning her opening match at the ongoing Rome Masters, although she missed her opportunity of direct entrance into the main draw after a second-round exit on Tuesday.
Her day went from bad to worse when she was forced to withdraw injured from her clash with Mirjana Lucic-Baroni due to a left thigh injury.
Sharapova, whose ranking now stands at 211, could have earned her spot at Wimbledon by reaching the semi-finals in Italy.
"I apologise for having to withdraw from my match with a left thigh injury," the five-time major winner said in a statement. "I will be getting all the necessary examinations to make sure it is not serious."
Maria Sharapova denied French Open wildcard
Maria Sharapova has been denied a French Open wildcard and will not qualify for Wimbledon on merit.
The 2012 and 2014 French Open winner has yet to publicly comment on her Roland Garros snub which was delivered by Guidicelli on Facebook Live, ahead of the tournament later this month.
"Nobody can deprive her of her two titles at Roland Garros, but today I can't grant her the wildcard requested," Guidicelli said as his justification for Sharapova's absence.
"The titles won here, she won within the rules without owing anything to anyone.
"While wildcards exist for players returning from injury, there is nothing for a return from a doping ban," he added.
"I know the media dimension of Maria and I'm measuring the expectations of the public and sponsors, but in all conscience it didn't appear possible to me to go beyond the strict application of the world anti-doping code."
Last month former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard blasted Sharapova as a "cheater" and suggested the Russian should receive a life ban from tennis.
Sharapova's absence leaves the women's French Open field wide open with Serena Williams, a three-time champion in Paris, out for the rest of the season as she prepares to give birth to her first child.
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