Image © Getty Images
The long-awaited announcement regarding Maria Sharapova playing the French Open was revealed on Tuesday evening and the decision is NoÈ.
I decided not to give to Maria Sharapova a wild card a wild card she asked me for
The French Tennis Federation have decided not to grant the Russian with a wildcard, not even into the Qualifying competition.
The decision came a few hours before she took to the court at the Rome Open where she had been granted a wildcard but playing Mirjana Lucic-Baroni she retired with an alleged thigh injury when leading 4-6 6-3 2-1.
The retirement came 2 and a half hours after FFT president Bernard Giudicelli delivered the decision. Speaking on Facebook, he said: “I just wanted to tell you that I decided not to give to Maria Sharapova a wild card a wild card she asked me for.
“Nobody can deprive her of her two titles here in Roland Garros, but these two titles she had conquered them according to the rules and behold nothing to anyone. Today this (doping) suspension is over and she can take her path towards the new success, but if there can be a wild card for return from injuries then there cannot be a wild card for return from doping.
“So it is up to her, day after day, tournament after tournament, to find alone the strength to conquer major titles without being held to anybody.
“I’m very sorry for Maria, very sorry for her fans. They might be very disappointed and she might be very disappointed, but 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.”
He also noted that there were strong calls for Sharapova to be offered a place at Roland Garros, but stressed it was “inconceivable to take a decision” against the anti-doping efforts of tournaments and governing bodies.
He added: “Of course I felt some pressure. We did not want to treat Maria Sharapova differently …. I know the expectation fans and broadcasters have, but it didn’t seem possible for me to go above the strong commitment and the respect for the anti-doping code.”
Sharapova subsequently issued a statement through the WTA giving more details of her decision to retire but made no comment on the FFT ruling.
The Russian said: “I apologise for having to withdraw from my match today with a left thigh injury. I will be getting all the necessary examinations to make sure this is not serious.
“I want to thank the tournament for giving me the opportunity to play in this special event again.”
Sharapova returned last month following a 15-month ban for testing positive for the banned heart drug meldonium at last year’s Australian Open.
The Russian has accepted wild cards to enter all three of her tournaments since her return, attracting criticism from many players.
Sharapova reached the semi-finals in Stuttgart, Germany, then was eliminated in the second round in Madrid last week.
By winning her opening match in Rome on Monday, Sharapova earned enough points to enter the top 200 next week and gain direct entry to the qualifying tournament for Wimbledon.