Paris - Two-time
champion Maria Sharapova will miss Roland Garros this year after the
French tennis federation denied her a wild card, FFT president Bernard
Guidicelli said on Tuesday.
The former world number one, who only returned from a 15-month doping
ban last month, will sit out the French Open, which she won in 2012 and
2014, for the second year in a row.
"Nobody can deprive her of her two titles at Roland Garros, but today
I can't grant her the wild card requested," Guidicelli said on Facebook
Live, ahead of the May 28-June 11 tournament.
"The titles won here, she won within the rules without owing anything to anyone.
"While wild cards exist for players returning from injury, there is nothing for a return from a doping ban," he added.
The five-time Grand Slam champion was banned for two years for using
meldonium, with the penalty later reduced by the Court of Arbitration
for Sport which ruled she was not an intentional doper.
After the ban expired on April 26, the Russian returned to
competition at the Stuttgart Open, reaching the semi-finals, and
progressed to the last 32 of the Madrid Open, too late to earn herself a
qualifying spot for Paris.
"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.
The federation chief had hinted Sharapova would not be welcome after
agreeing with comments made by Andy Murray in March, in which the Briton
said she should have to work her way back to the top.
"Integrity is one of our main commitments. We can't decide to
increase funds in the fight against doping and then... (invite her),"
Guidicelli said at the time.
"I know the media dimension of Maria and I'm measuring the
expectations of the public and sponsors, but in all conscience it didn't
appear possible to me to go beyond the strict application of the world
anti-doping code," he explained on Tuesday.
"The code doesn't have rules regarding wild cards. These invitations are given at the discretion of the organisers."
French Open tournament
director Guy Forget had earlier said the decision over whether
Sharapova would receive a wild card was going to be "very
"Some say she shouldn't get it, others say she served her time," tournament director Guy Forget told the BBC.
"As you talk with players, it's very controversial. So no matter what
happens, there will be a lot of questions around that wildcard."
Last month former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard blasted
Sharapova as a "cheater" and suggested the Russian should be kicked out
of tennis for life.
"I don't think that's right. She's a cheater and so to me, I don't
think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport
again," Bouchard, the world number 52, told TRT World while playing at
the Istanbul Cup.
Sharapova's absence leaves the women's French Open field wide open
with Serena Williams, a three-time champion in Paris, sitting out the
rest of the season as she prepares to give birth to her first child.
Sharapova is guaranteed a qualifying spot at Wimbledon in July after
winning her opening match in Rome, although she missed a chance at
direct entrance into the main draw after a second-round exit on Tuesday.
The Russian, whose ranking has plummeted to 211, could have earned
her spot at Wimbledon by reaching the semi-finals in Italy but retired
from her match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the final set with a
"I apologise for having to withdraw from my match with a left thigh
injury," Sharapova said in a statement. "I will be getting all the
necessary examinations to make sure it is not serious."