Maria Sharapova denied French Open wildcard entry

Maria Sharapova denied French Open wildcard entry
Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has not been granted a wildcard entry to the French Open - the first Grand Slam event she could have entered since returning from a 15-month doping ban.

Former world number one Sharapova is a two-time winner of the French Open, in 2012 and 2014, and had hoped that the French Tennis Federation (FFT) would grant her a place, even though her current WTA world ranking of 211 does not officially merit an automatic spot.

In a move that surprised many, Sharapova’s name was omitted from Tuesday’s wildcard entries list. Instead Audrey Albie, Manon Arcangioli, Yasmine Mansouri, Jessika Ponchet, Jade Suvrijn, and Harmony Tan were afforded the wildcard spots in the tournament’s qualifying stage.

Tournament director Guy Forget earlier warned that the decision whether or not to hand Sharapova a wildcard entry at Roland Garros would split opinion.

"Some say she shouldn't get it, others say she served her time," Forget told BBC Sport.

"As you talk with players, it's very controversial. So no matter what happens, there will be a lot of questions around that wildcard."

Sharapova returned from her ban on April 26 at the Stuttgart Open, beating Italian Roberta Vinci in straight sets 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of the tournament.

It was Sharapova’s first professional outing since receiving a ban from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in March 2016, after testing positive for banned substance meldonium during the Australian Open that year.

Five-time grand slam winner Sharapova was originally handed a two-year ban, although this was reduced to 15 months on appeal.

She returned to the court exactly one week after her 30th birthday, describing it as the “biggest gift.”

On Monday it was confirmed that Sharapova had secured a place in Wimbledon qualifying with a first-round win over Christina McHale at the Italian Open.

In other French Open news, Roger Federer declared he would miss the event, saying he thought it “best to skip the clay-court season this year.”