One of the most prestigious tennis championship in tennis is advancing and so does the anxiety of Maria Sharapova. The 5 time Grand Slam winner had quite a rough patch in her career. She just returned from her 15 months suspension at the Stuttgart Open. She topped Anett Kontaveit, 6-3, 6-4, on Friday to advance to the semifinals where she was brutally defeated by Kristina Mladenovic in a grueling three set match, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. The loss leaves her ranked No. 262 and still utterly dependent on the largesse of the French Tennis Federation. But now the question arises, should Maria Sharapova be given a wildcard entry for Wimbledon ?
It was unfortunate for her, she needed that victory to move up rank below 200 so that she wouldn’t be at the mercy of the Federation to play in a tournament she won twice. What remains is to see how she performs in the two clay court title evens at Madrid and Rome before the deadline of the main draw. Sharapova has to wait until the 20th of June to hear the bells of her fate.
In March 2016, Sharapova announced that she had been tested positive for meldonium. Initially she was given a two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation, but it was reduced on appeal to 15 months.
Sharapova was given a wild card for the Porsche Grand Prix main draw by tournament organizers. Porsche is one of Sharapova’s sponsors. Sharapova also has received wild cards for tournaments in Rome and Madrid. Should she accumulate enough points from those tournaments, she could qualify for the main draw of the French Open, the next major on the tennis calendar.
Her comebacks hasn’t been welcomed by the entire tennis community who sees this as unfair. Some have been more vocal than others. I’m looking at you Eugenie Bouchard, Caroline Wozniackis, Simona Halep and Andy Murray.
Eugenie Bouchard branding the former world number one “a cheat” who should not have been allowed to play again. She added “When you cheat you forgo the privilege to take part in your sport.”
Simona Halep, the World No. 5, also gave her 2 cents. She told the media in Stuttgart: “For the kids, for the young players, it is not OK to help with a wild card for a player that was banned for doping. It is not about Maria Sharapova here, but it is about all the players that are found doped.”
Despite his beliefs the World rank 1 believes that Maria will get her ticket. I think there’s a good chance Wimbledon would give her one to get into qualifiers,” Murray said. “I’m not sure what they will do but I’m sure they are hoping they don’t have to make the decision, there’s a good chance that she can get in by right, which I’m sure is what she’s hoping for and that’s what Wimbledon would be hoping for.”
The authorities have done little to clear the quandary. “It’s going to be complicated,” FFT president Bernard Giudicelli told AFP in March. “We cannot decide, on the one hand, to increase the amount of funds we dedicate to the anti-doping battle and, on the other, invite her.” He previously commented on the matter, “There is no reason to make an exception for Maria Sharapova.”
No matter how hard it may seem, the dilemma needs to be handled. Could Sharapova be treated any differently? Should she get to mooching off a stardom that once existed? Does she deserve a chance to redeem herself? Would it be ethical to promote ‘cheat’? What example should be set for the younger generation of tennis player?