The Russian tennis star is not long back from a 15-month ban for failing a routine drugs test
MARIA SHARAPOVA has been given a wildcard into the US Open.
Many of Sharapova’s rivals believe she should not receive wildcards, especially into Grand Slam tournaments, after serving a 15-month ban for an anti-doping offence.
But the United States Tennis Association have ignored their feelings – and those of many others in the sport – to give the 2006 champion a free pass into the main draw.
A statement from the US Tennis Association read: “Her suspension under the terms of the tennis anti-doping program was completed and therefore was not one of the factors weighed in our wildcard selection process.
“Consistent with past practice, a wild card was provided to a past US champion who needed tge wild card for entry into the main draw.
The USTA went on to name Martina Hingis, Lleyton Hewitt, Kim Clijsters and Juan Martin Del Potro as past champions who had received wild cards.
But none did so in the same circumstances as Sharapova – although Hingis did serve a two-year ban later in her career for testing positive for cocaine.
“Additionally, Sharapova has volunteered to speak to young tennis players at the USTA National campus about the importance of the tennis anti-doping program and the personal responsibility each player has to comply with the program’s requirements.”
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French Open chiefs took a stand earlier in the year when they refused to give Sharapova a wildcard into the first round OR qualifying.
The Russian-born star then earned enough rankings points to gain a place in Wimbledon qualifying but missed the event through injury.
Sharapova pulled of this week’s tournament in Cincinnati with an arm injury and is currently ranked No 148 in the world after a disappointing run of form and fitness since her comeback in April.
After missing Wimbledon with a thigh injury, Sharapova played her first US match since March 2015 at Stanford, defeating American Jennifer Brady 6-1, 4-6, 6-0.
But in the triumph, Sharapova suffered the forearm injury that has sidelined her since, even after arriving in Cincinnati hopeful of playing as a wildcard in the final major tuneup before the US Open.
“Following the doctor’s advice on-site, as a precaution for the US Open, I am unfortunately withdrawing from the tournament with the left forearm injury I sustained in Stanford,” Sharapova said.
The US Open starts at Flushing Meadow on August 28.
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