Why is Maria Sharapova not being given a wild card entry into this week’s French Open tennis tournament? She has completed her 15 month suspension for failing a drug test because of her use of the drug Meldonium that was banned in 2016 because it is believed to help players produce energy more efficiently. The fact is Sharapova had been taking meldonium since 2005 as a preventative heart condition that was common to her family. The medicine does not require a prescription in Russia, it is sold over the counter, but her doctor did prescribe the medicine. Sharapova’s suspension was originally for 2 years despite the fact that the ITF (International Tennis Federation) determined the use was not intentional. Sharapova appealed the suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and they reduced the suspension to 15 months because they determined she acted with “no significant fault” adding that “….under no circumstances can the player be considered to be an ‘intentional’ doper.” CAS did rule that she should have some responsibility for knowing what banned substances are which is why they didn’t rescind her suspension altogether. WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) CEO Steve Simon said in a statement at the time said that the WTA supports the CAS ruling and looks forward to Sharapova’s return to tennis. Simon also noted that Sharapova will have to rebuild her tennis ranking from scratch but she will be entitled to unlimited wild cards based on her record which include 6 major tennis titles. Simon also said that, “I would be very surprised if there are too many tournaments that wouldn’t extend her that opportunity.”
Sharapova has already played in 3 tournaments including the Italian Open being played this week. Sharapova made it to the Round of 64 and she was tied at one set apiece and leading in the 3rd set 2 games to 1 to Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni when she had to quit the match due to a thigh injury. With that in mind, why did the French Tennis Association deny Sharapova a wild card entry to a 2 time French Open champion? You can chalk it up to the French being contrarian type of people, which they totally, are or you can chalk it up to jealousy by her fellow competitors and their vocal complaints about Sharapova’s return after her suspension. It seems that Sharapova isn’t the most well liked player on the tennis circuit. She had stated in the past that she didn’t see herself playing past the age of 25 leaving the impression that she didn’t love tennis. She has been named one of the hottest women alive in several publications and she’s had a successful career as a model. She has also been named to the Forbes Celebrity 100 which is a list of the most powerful celebrities of the year. She was on the list from 2005 to 2011. Sharapova had also won a fair share of tournaments winning at least one tournament a year from 2003 through 2015. A feat that only Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert had accomplished. This despite multiple injuries including 3 shoulder surgeries. It appears there are plenty of reasons for being jealous of a beautiful, talented, multi-faceted woman especially by other women.
ESPN has pointed out that the French Open snub is a little dicey especially if a woman more popular in the locker room comes back from a similar suspension and she gets a wild card exemption. Right now Sharapova has to be wondering why the French Open rejected her when she was welcomed in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome. Sharapova is a French Open champion and the rejection looks even more petty in my eyes. Even though I am a fan of her, Sharapova could, in fact, be a bitch but that’s no reason to deny her the right to work. Just like a player in American sports who undergoes a suspension gets to come back and resume his or her career Sharapova is doing the same in tennis. To have an event, especially a Grand Slam event, snub her seems cheap and petty, but then again, it IS the French.