Russian star was denied a French Open place following her drug ban and SW19 chiefs are told they should follow suit
PAT CASH has urged Wimbledon chiefs NOT to offer Maria Sharapova a wildcard this summer.
The Russian star was denied a place in the forthcoming French Open following her 15-month ban for testing positive for meldonium.
And 1987 Wimbledon champ Cash said: “Well done to the French Tennis Federation.
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“It’s absolutely the correct decision. She certainly should not be getting benefits from the fact she got caught using an illegal drug.
“I am disappointed the Italian Federation haven’t done the same thing by giving her a wildcard in Rome this week — even though she didn’t get through. I would hope Wimbledon would stay strong and say, ‘No, sorry, you’ve got to go through and play qualifying’.
“I certainly think the All England Club need to stand up and make a stance about this and say we are not rewarding drug cheats.”
Sharapova, 30, was not able to acquire enough ranking points to secure an automatic place in qualifying for the tournament in Paris and so was reliant on a wildcard — with FFT chief Bernard Giudicelli hinting that the rejection was due to her recent ban.
And Shazza responded on Twitter to the French Open’s decision not to let her play in Paris qualifying next week.
She said: “If this is what it takes to rise up again, I am in it all the way, every day.
“No words, games, or actions will ever stop me from reaching my dreams. And I have many.”
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WTA chief executive Steve Simon, however, condemned the reasoning for the Sharapova snub, after she had her sanction reduced from two years by the Court for Arbitration of Sport.
He said: “The tennis anti-doping program is a uniform effort supported by the Grand Slams, WTA, ITF and ATP.
“There are no grounds for anyone to penalise any player beyond the sanctions set forth in the final decisions resolving these matters.”
Shazza was forced to retire from her second-round clash at the Italian Open in Rome this week because of an injury to her left leg, having gone on court just 30 minutes after Giudicelli’s announcement.
She would have needed to reach the semi-finals to gain automatic entry into the main Wimbledon draw — but has at least secured a place in the qualifying event at Roehampton, should she be fit enough to take part.
The decision on Sharapova’s Wimbledon wildcard is due at a meeting on June 20 by a sub-committee, chaired by former British No 1 Tim Henman.
The LTA is, though, expected to confirm that Sharapova WILL be given a free pass into the Aegon Classic — a Wimbledon warm-up event in Birmingham next month.