Wimbledon denies snubbing Sharapova
Organizers at Wimbledon have dismissed suggestions that former champion Maria Sharapova was absent from the recent celebrations to mark the centenary of Centre Court because of her nationality.
Sharapova was not among the host of names to be presented at the iconic venue on Sunday as Wimbledon marked the 100th anniversary of one of the most famous courts in tennis.
The ‘Parade of Champions’ comprised 26 former Wimbledon winners, including 12 who were one-time champions at the All England Club.
But while the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Venus Williams were all present, one star conspicuous by her absence was Sharapova.
The Russian produced one of the most stunning title wins in Wimbledon history when she claimed the women’s singles crown in 2004, defeating Serena Williams in the final when aged just 17.
Sharapova would go on to win four more Grand Slams in her career – two at the French Open and one each at the US and Australian Opens.
Fans and pundits were quick to notice her absence from the Wimbledon parade, which reportedly extended to Sharapova not being included in a video montage of iconic Centre Court moments.
There was immediate speculation that Sharapova may have been shunned because of the ban Wimbledon has imposed on Russian and Belarusian players because of the conflict in Ukraine.
However, according to The Daily Mail, bosses at the All England Club have dismissed that notion.
The news outlet says organizers would not confirm if the retired Sharapova had been invited or not, but that they had only asked one-time winners who they “knew would already be at the tournament or did not have far to travel.”
They also explained Sharapova’s omission from video clips by saying that montages “were not long enough to include every past champion,” The Mail said.
Whether Sharapova, 35, would have attended the ceremony or not is another matter considering that she announced back in April that she is pregnant with her first child.
All current Russian and Belarusian players are absent from this year’s Wimbledon after organizers claimed it would have handed a potential “propaganda” boost to the Russian leadership, had they been invited.
The All England Club also cited UK government guidance when barring the likes of men’s world number one Daniil Medvedev from the grass court showpiece.
That stance has made Wimbledon an outlier in tennis, where other Grand Slams as well as the WTA and ATP tours have allowed Russians and Belarusians to appear under neutral status.
The WTA and ATP punished Wimbledon by stripping this year’s event of rankings points, while it was recently revealed that the WTA had slapped the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and All England Club with fines totaling $1 million because of the ban.