Two-time champion Maria Sharapova has been denied a wildcard for this year’s Roland Garros, French tennis federation president Bernard Guidicelli said on Tuesday.
The former world No1, who only returned from a 15-month doping ban last month, will miss the tournament for the second year in a row.
Guidicelli made the announcement via a Facebook Live video, saying the reason Sharapova would not be invited was his “mission to protect the game”.
“I just wanted to tell you that I decided not to give to Maria Sharapova a wildcard – the wildcard that she asked me (for),” Guidicelli said.
“Nobody can deprive her two titles she won here in Roland Garros. But those two titles she (won) them according to the rules. I really read the articles, 101, of the CAS, which reduced her sanction. However we agreed with the independent tribunal panel that she has committed a violation of the anti-doping tennis program. And she had to be suspended for 15 months.
“Today that suspension is over and she can take her path towards the new success. But if there can be a wildcard for the return from injuries, then there cannot be a wildcard for the return from doping. So it’s up to her, day after day, tournament after tournament, to find the strength to conquer more titles without hold to anybody.
“I’m very sorry for Maria, very sorry for her fans, that might be very disappointed. She might be very disappointed, but it’s my mission to protect the game, and to protect the high standards of game played without any doped on the result.”
Sharapova has got her ranking up to 211 in the world after reaching the Stuttgart semi-finals, and Madrid second round – her first two tournaments back from suspension. She needed to make the Stuttgart final in order to secure a spot in the Roland Garros qualifying rounds by virtue of her ranking. But she was unable to crack the top 200 before the cut-off entry date for the French Open, and needed a wildcard in order to compete.
The Russian five-time grand slam champion has secured a spot in Wimbledon qualifying thanks to her first round win in Rome on Monday.
French Open organisers are bracing for controversy ahead of Tuesday’s decision on whether to grant Maria Sharapova a wildcard for Roland Garros.
The decision on whether the former world number one, returning from a 15-month doping ban, will gain wildcard entry for the Grand Slam is to be announced at 1700 GMT by the president of the French Tennis Federation Bernard Guidicelli.
Maria Sharapova on WC for French Open: "I won't be following the Facebook live of the FFT, I'll be focusing on my match."— Giulio Fedele (@fedele_giulio) May 15, 2017
“Some say she shouldn’t get it, others say she served her time,” tournament director Guy Forget told the BBC.
“As you talk with players, it’s very controversial. So no matter what happens, there will be a lot of questions around that wildcard.”
The five-times Grand Slam winner was banned for two years for using meldonium, but the penalty was reduced to 15 months on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport which ruled she was not an intentional doper.
After the ban expired last month, 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.
On Monday she won her opening match at the Rome Masters, guaranteeing a qualifying spot at Wimbledon and she could earn a slot in the main draw if she reaches the semi-finals of the event she has won three times.
In an interview with CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies, tennis great Roger Federer sat down to outline his plans for the French Open and to reflect on his return to the heights of the game following a substantial lay off in 2016.
Speaking ahead of the clay court season, the 18-time grand slam champion refused to confirm whether he would compete at Roland Garros in May, following a remarkable return to form that has seen the 35-year-old win the Australian Open, Indian Wells and the Miami Open.
Having now reached fourth in the World Rankings, Federer tells Davies that becoming World Number One is no longer a priority to him, with his focus now on maintaining his health and form.
Despite this, Federer confirmed to CNN that he still had no intentions to retire from the sport, and explained how he is approaching the tours in his later years.
“I don’t think I will skip [the French Open], but I will have to see in, say, four or five weeks how I feel when I get on the clay and how my mood is then,” said Federer.
“If I feel like I’m not 100 per cent in it, that I’m [not] really fired up — and I believe that is something possible — then it is better to skip it. Maybe the break is a long one, it will be 10 weeks until the grass – that could be a bit long. But I think I will play the French.”
You can watch the full video, courtesy of CNN and exclusive to Sport360 in the region, above.