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19 May 2017, 11:00 | Andy Ferguson
Maria Sharapova said on Wednesday she remains fully committed to making a successful comeback from her doping ban following a decision by the French Open to deny her a wild card entry.
Sharapova, who was wearing a bandage on her left thigh, yesterday pulled out of her contest against Croatian veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni while leading 4-6, 6-3, 2-1 to round out a miserable day for the five-time Grand Slam champion.
Her initial ban had been set at two-years, but following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), this was reduced to 15-months as they determined Sharapova had not intentionally doped. "No words, games, or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams".
Sharapova was forced to retire from her second-round clash at the Italian Open in Rome because of an injury to her left leg, having took to the court just 30 minutes after Giudicelli's announcement.
Then came the big snub - French Tennis president Bernard Giudicelli announcing that the 2012 and 2014 champion would play no part in this year's tournament which starts later this month. "It's going to be a very exciting fortnight at Roland Garros", Simon said in a statement.
It meant she needed a favor from the French Tennis Federation (FFT) but in an unexpected development, especially as the French Open is already without pregnant Serena Williams and resting Roger Federer, it took a moral stand that will please some of her rivals but could hit the tournament's ratings. Moreover, even though the wild cards meeting is being held in the following week, the committee could delay a decision on Sharapova, pending possible results in the tournaments at either Majorca or Edgbaston.
Giudicelli was more terse when he said, "I know that there is strong expectation from the media and fans [to give Sharapova a wild card], but we are not doing a casting call".
"I don't agree with the basis for their decision", said WTA chief executive Steve Simon. The first jolt came when she was denied a wildcard for the upcoming French Open, followed by her injury-triggered retirement from the Italian Open that dealt a blow to her Wimbledon main draw qualification hopes. "We can not decide, on the one hand, to increase the amount of funds we dedicate to the anti-doping battle and, on the other, invite her", he said in March. But nevertheless Roland Garros invests a lot - along with the other Grand Slams, the ATP, and the WTA - into the fight against doping.
The Australian women's wild card will be decided via a playoff which will be played from Friday to Sunday and features seven Australians.
"There are no grounds for any member of the TADP to penalize any player beyond the sanctions set forth in the final decisions resolving these matters".
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