10 Thoughts on the Maria Sharapova French Open Wild Card
French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli decided not to give Maria Sharapova a wild card into Roland Garros’s main draw or qualifying draw, leaving the two-time champion, who is currently ranked 211 in the world, without a way in.
More: Twitter Reacts to Sharapova Wild Card Snub
The decision was controversial and caused quite a stir, both from Sharapova’s supporters and detractors. So, was it fair? Did the French Open “save” the integrity of the sport or simply deny Sharapova and her myriad fans a shot of redemption?
Here are 10 quick takes on the decision:
1. It’s their tournament
Roland Garros, just like Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome, gets to make the final decision on wild cards. It’s as simple as that, and the discussion really should begin and end here. Sharapova, because of her 15-month suspension, has not earned the requisite ranking points to qualify for the tournament. Thus she was in position to be denied a wild card by the tournament. She’s not the first player to have a wild card request denied and she won’t be the last. Ask Francesca Schiavone about that. That’s the risk you take when you are No.211 in the world.
2. Roland Garros came off as hypocritical
By stating that they could not grant Sharapova a wild card because she was coming off a doping ban while simultaneously giving one to Constant Lestienne, a player that was banned for seven months for betting on matches, the French Open has opened itself up to hypocrisy claims. “It's my responsibility, my mission, to protect the high standards of the game played without any doubt on the result,” said Guidicelli during his Facebook live announcement of the wild card recipients. This would have come off as gospel had he not already handed a wild card to a previously suspended gambler. Not a good look.
3. Sharapova hasn’t done herself any favors
The Russian and her agent Max Eisenbud have not appeared to be contrite throughout this whole process, and have played the victim card. It’s true that Sharapova was never convicted of intentionally doping, and we are of the opinion that Sharapova's sentence was quite harsh given that fact (she was also dragged through the mud unecessarily by WADA, who steered the public to focus on her longtime usage of Meldonium when it really didn't matter in the case), but the antagonistic attitude of Sharapova and her team may have had something to do with Roland Garros’ decision not to grant her the wild card.
Is she being unfairly punished even after paid her dues? Hard to say. She's been given three wild cards right off the bat -- a very nice chance to reclaim her ranking that most others would not be afforded. Clearly whatever happens to Sharapova will either be viewed as preferential treatmant or unfair punishment. There seems to be no in-between.
4. Steve Simon’s Statement was well intended, but not really necessary
The WTA chief stated that there are no grounds for Sharapova to continue to be punished beyond any sanctions she had already received and served. It’s nice that he is showing support for her, but wild cards are gifts. When they aren’t given it is not necessarily punishment. It's just status quo.
5. A lot of players are going to be happy not to have to play her in the first round at Paris
Sharapova has not been in great form since she returned in Stuttgart, but would anybody want to have to face her in the first round of Roland Garros after the Russian had rummaged through three rounds of qualifying? Imagine if she drew—and defeated—a top 5 player in the first round. Would that be fair to the Top 5 player?
6. This will all be over soon
In a few month’s time, after Sharapova has won a few more matches on tour, she can start entering main draws on the merit of her ranking and this will all be behind us. Woo hoo!
7. But it won’t be over that soon
Sharapova already has qualified for the qualifying draw at Wimbledon based on ranking, but will Wimbledon give her a pass into the main draw? Our guess is no. Roland Garros has actually made it quite easy for Wimbledon to handle this. Hopefully they won’t say anything about her doping as a reason for denying the wild card though.Why not just say "We felt these other players were more deserving," and skip the Facebook Live announcement?
Another interesting deadline beckons, however. Rumor has it that the U.S. Open cut-off for rankings is the day after Wimbledon. She may have to go through the same song-and-dance with the USTA.
8. Let us not forget -- Sharapova has done a lot for tennis
Tournaments would be wise to remember how much exposure Sharapova has brought to their tournaments. The Russian has been one of the top women in the sport for well over a decade, and she has millions of passionate, adoring fans, and has brought major money into the coffers at countless tournaments. Yes, Sharapova has profited from her own success, but her rising tide has lifted all boats. Tennis is a more financially secure and widely seen sport because of Sharapova. It’s something we should all remember. She has been vilified in the press and by her peers, and much of it, given the crime that she actually committed, has been over the top.
9. Players are speaking out against Sharapova for personal reasons
Kristina Mladenovic, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Eugenie Bouchard have all had harsh words for Sharapova. But how many of them are voicing their dislike of Sharapova’s distant, aloof mode of conduct in the locker room more than voicing their opinions on the specific details of the case? What if it was a different player that received this ban? Would Bouchard, Mladenovic and others be so severe? I don’t think so.
10. When it’s all said and done, this is all on Sharapova
No matter what is fair or what isn’t. Whether she deserves a wild card or not, Sharapova is in this position because she was tremendously careless with her career, and so were the people around her. She brought this on herself, and because she has always been aloof and never taken the time to make friends on tour, it’s only normal that there would be a pushback. Maria always has wanted to be on an island – no friends in the locker room – and here she is. It’s tough on her right now. But she just has to win a few more matches and she’ll be able to play wherever she wants, no questions asked, no sermons offered.