Two-time French Open champion Maria Sharapova has been denied a wildcard to this year's tournament. "It is my responsibility to respect the high standards of the game," said the president of the French Tennis Federation.
Maria Sharapova has been denied a wildcard for the French Open, in a surprise announcement on Tuesday.
The decision puts to an end speculation about her place at the clay Grand Slam event since she returned from a 15-month doping ban last month.
The Russian, who made her comeback after serving a suspension following a positive test for heart drug meldonium at last year's Australian Open, had hoped for a favour from the French Tennis Federation (FFT) because her ranking, currently 211, does not warrant an automatic place.
The decision was announced by the FFT on Facebook Live shortly before Sharapova, 30, was due to play her second round at the Italian Open in Rome.
"Nobody can deprive her of her two titles at Roland Garros, but today I can't grant her the wild card requested," FFT president Bernard Guidicelli said on Facebook Live.
"The titles won here, she won within the rules without owing anything to anyone. But while wildcards exist for players returning from injury, there is nothing for a return from a doping ban," he added.
"I am very sorry for Maria, and very sorry for her fans. They might be very disappointed and she might be disappointed. But it is my responsibility and my mission to respect the high standards of the game to be played without any doping," said Guidicelli.
It had been expected that the FFT would hand Sharapova, who won the 2012 and 2014 titles on the Parisian clay at least a wildcard into the qualifying tournament.
Sharapova's return has been dogged by criticism with several leading players voicing their disapproval at the decision of tournament organisers in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome to grant her a main draw wildcard.
The five-times grand slam champion is also sweating on her place at Wimbledon with the cut-off for direct entries into the main draw on Monday. She needs a semi-final run in Rome to claim a main draw spot at Wimbledon by right.
mds (Reuters, AFP)