Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Maria Sharapova to make grand slam return after receiving US Open wild card

Former world No 1 will make her first appearance at a major tournament since serving her 15-month suspension for a failed doping test.

Maria Sharapova will be in the main draw at the US Open after receiving a wild card from the organisers. Stan Szeto / Reuters
Maria Sharapova will be in the main draw at the US Open after receiving a wild card from the organisers. Stan Szeto / Reuters

Five-time major champion Maria Sharapova will play her first grand slam event since serving a 15-month doping suspension after receiving a wild card Tuesday into the US Open.

The move by the US Tennis Association (USTA) comes after Sharapova, ranked No 148 this week, was rejected for a wild card spot into the French Open and missed Wimbledon with a thigh injury.

Sharapova tested positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open and was suspended by the International Tennis Federation, a ban that ended in April. Since then, Sharapova has needed wild cards to get into tournaments, drawing criticism from some fellow professionals.


"Her suspension under the terms of the tennis anti-doping program was completed and therefore was not one of the factors weighed in our wild card selection process," the USTA said in a statement.

"Consistent with past practice, a wildcard was provided to a past US champion who needed the wild card for entry into the main draw. Previous US Open champions who have received US Open main draw wildcards include Martina Hingis, Lleyton Hewitt, Kim Clijsters and Juan Martin del Potro."

Former world No 1 Sharapova won the 2006 US Open as well as Wimbledon in 2014, the 2008 Australian Open and the French Open in 2012 and 2014.

Sharapova will also speak to youth about the benefits of the anti-doping program and the need for players to be vigilant about the banned substance list, something she admitted not doing when she did not catch meldonium being added to the ban list in 2016.

"Additionally, Sharapova has volunteered to speak to young tennis players at the USTA national campus about the importance of the tennis anti-doping program and the personal responsibility each player has to comply with the program's requirements," the USTA said.

Sharapova has shaken off criticism from rival players about wildcards and the French Open snub, tweeting after being denied a spot at Roland Garros: "If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, everyday. No words, games or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams. And I have many."

Sharapova has withdrawn from US Open warm-up tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati the past two weeks after suffering a left forearm injury at Stanford.

In her first US match since March 2015, Shrapova defeated American Jennifer Brady 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 at Stanford. But in the triumph, Sharapova suffered the forearm injury that has sidelined her since, even after arriving in Cincinnati hopeful of playing as a wildcard in the final major tuneup before the US Open.

"Following the doctor's advice on-site, as a precaution for the US Open, I am unfortunately withdrawing from the tournament with the left forearm injury I sustained in Stanford," Sharapova said.

* Agence France-Presse

Updated: August 15, 2017 08:19 PM



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