17 May 2017

Sharapova denied French Open wild card

6:21 am on 17 May 2017

Former women's tennis world number one Maria Sharapova has been denied a wild card invitation to this month's French Open.

Maria Sharapova after she won the French Open in 2012

Maria Sharapova after she won the French Open in 2012 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 30-year-old, who returned from a 15-month doping ban last month, had been expected to be fast-tracked into the qualifying competition for a tournament already without a host of leading players including Serena Williams.

Sharapova who is now ranked 211th in the world did not have enough ranking points to go straight into the main draw in Paris, or into the qualifying event.

However French Tennis Federation president, Bernard Giudicelli announced that the 2012 and 2014 champion would play no part in this year's tournament which starts later this month.

"You can get a wild card when you return from injury but you cannot get a wild card when returning from a doping suspension," Giudicelli said.

"I appreciate the media impact of Maria, I appreciate the broadcasters' expectations but in conscience, it was not possible to go beyond the anti-doping code and beyond the application of the rules...

"She might be very disappointed, but it's my responsibility to protect the game," Giudicelli added. .

Sharapova rocked the tennis world when she announced last year that she had tested positive for heart drug meldonium at the Australian Open after failing to realise it had been added to WADA's list of banned substances.

She had taken it for medical reasons for most of her career.

Sharapova's return has been dogged by criticism with several leading players voicing their disapproval at the decision of WTA tournament organisers in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome to grant her a wildcard for those tournaments.

The five-times grand slam champion is also sweating on her place at Wimbledon with the cut-off for direct entries into the main draw on Monday. She needs a semi-final run in Rome this week to claim a main draw spot at Wimbledon by right.

-REUTERS