Monday 24 July 2017

Maria Sharapova vows to 'rise up again' after French Open wild card snub

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova

Jonathan Veal

Maria Sharapova has vowed to "rise up again" after being denied a wildcard entry into the French Open by the French Tennis Federation.

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 on Tuesday.

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 acquire enough ranking points to secure an automatic place in qualifying for the tournament in Paris, with FFT president Bernard Giudicelli hinting that the rejection was due to her recent ban.

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."

The 30-year-old Sharapova, who retired injured from her second-round clash at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome on Tuesday, has responded defiantly.

In a post on her official Twitter page, she said: "If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, everyday. No words, games, or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams. And I have many."

WTA chief executive Steve Simon condemned the reasoning for her snub and insists the FFT are not in a position to hand Sharapova further punishment.

He said in a statement: "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.

"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 early exit against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in Rome - due to injury - means that she can no longer secure a place in the main draw at Wimbledon, though 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, on June 20.

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