Paris - Maria Sharapova will learn on May 15 whether she can
compete at the French Open after her drugs ban, French tennis officials said on
Thursday, insisting the absence of pregnant Serena Williams would have no
bearing on their decision.
Two-time Roland Garros champion Sharapova controversially
returns next week from a 15-month drugs ban at the WTA Stuttgart Grand Prix.
Stuttgart offered the 30-year-old Russian a wildcard entry
because she no longer has a world ranking - a move that angered some players.
Sharapova has also been invited to clay-court events in Madrid and Rome.
Whether she receives a wildcard for Roland Garros will be
revealed just a week before qualifying begins for the May 28-June 11 Grand
French Tennis Federation (FTF) president Bernard Giudicelli
said last month they faced a moral dilemma and hinted he was against it.
If Sharapova misses out the French Open will go ahead in the
absence of the two biggest drawcards in the women's game, with Williams
announcing Wednesday the end of her season due to pregnancy.
"Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are two
unconnected cases," said Giudicelli.
"We're staging a Grand Slam, not a casting."
If the FTF decides not to offer Sharapova a wildcard she
still has a chance of making Roland Garros via the qualifiers, but for that
route she must pick up enough points by winning or possibly even making the
final in Stuttgart.
Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion, had an initial
two-year suspension by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) reduced to 15
months after she tested positive at the 2016 Australian Open for meldonium.
This was a medication the Russian had been taking when it
was within the rules but which was later reclassified as a prohibited drug.
The Russian takes to the tennis court next Wednesday - the
first day she is eligible to play, with some rivals disapproving of the
"It's a German tournament and we have so many good
German players so this is a little strange," said Germany's world number
one Angelique Kerber.
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki said the
Stuttgart tournament's generosity towards Sharapova is "disrespectful to
other players and the WTA".