With Roland Garros just around the corner – a tournament which will not have Maria Sharapova competing – Wimbledon also on the horizon.
The Russian star, who has served a suspension for taking a banned substance, is on the comeback trail. Some of the lower tier WTA events have provided a wildcard to Sharapova, so that she can enter despite her ranking not being high enough. As previously discussed these events need high profile stars to attract the fans and get “bums on seats”.
No Maria Sharapova at this year’s French Open
The French Open refused to offer the Russian a wildcards into either the main draw or qualifying, meaning that Sharapova will miss an event she has won twice. Those wins, however, will be shrouded in doubt as to whether the Russian won the event while taking Melodium (not banned at the time).
Having been denied a wildcard into qualifying and the main draw in Paris, Maria Sharapova needed to reach the semi-final in the Italian Open to rise high enough in the rankings to reach the main draw of Wimbledon by right.
As the Russian retired from her second round match, this meant an automatic main draw spot was out of reach. Sharapova could have requested a wildcard into the Championships and would have been told of the outcome of a Wimbledon committee review on June 20.
The exclusion from Roland Garros, and the comments of the French Tennis Federation surrounding their decision, probably went a way towards Sharapova deciding not to apply for a wildcard into Wimbledon.
Qualifying for Wimbledon
Instead the Russian will have to win through three qualifying rounds to land a spot in the main draw. This is a very good decision by Maria Sharapova, as it would be very unlikely that the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club would have provided her with a wildcard.
At Wimbledon the wildcards are usually issued based on previous performances at the event (Sharapova won the event in 2004), or to increase British interest. This usually means the lower ranked Brits who cannot make the main draw by right.
Some of the smaller grass court events in the lead up to Wimbledon have provided the Russian with a wildcard, including Nottingham and Birmingham, however as with all Grand Slams, Wimbledon does not need to try and attract more people, as being a slam they can guarantee interest whoever plays.
The Russian could well make the main draw anyway as she goes through qualifying. Depending on seedings and draw, there is no reason to assume that Maria Sharapova will be missing from the first week at least of Wimbledon.