WTA Slam FFT Over Sharapova
The Women's Tennis Association have today slammed the decision made by the French Tennis Federation, not to give two times champion Maria Sharapova a wildcard from the French Open calling it “groundless.” The former world number one has served a 15-month ban for doping offences, and yesterday she had her hopes dashed when the FFT president Bernard Giudicelli broke the news that Sharapova would miss the second major of the season. Giudicelli told the media
"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."
"It is my responsibility and my mission to respect the high standards of the game to be played without any doping."
Steve Simon, the Chief Executive of WTA, was quick to jump to the defence of Sharapova, and voiced his displeasure with the FFT in a strongly worded statement. “ While acknowledging that wildcards were granted at a tournament's discretion,
"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 returned to the court following her ban on the 26th of April, where she competed in the Stuttgart Open. Sharapova reached the semifinals on her return to competitive action, and just a week later the Russian reached the last 32 of the Madrid Open. Sadly this great run came too late, as she had missed the cutoff point to earn a qualifying place for Roland Garros. Sharapova has earned herself a qualifying place at Wimbledon, after winning her opening match at the Rome Masters. Although she may still be given a wildcard to Wimbledon.
Not all of the women's game have been so understanding towards Sharapova, as only last month former Grand Slam finalist Eugenie Bouchard labelled Sharapova a “cheater” and should have been banned from the sport for life. This year’s French open will have a very different feel to it, as now with Sharapova absence, there will also be no Serena Williams who is expecting her first child.
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