WTA chief defends Maria Sharapova wildcards

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Maria Sharapova’s wildcard entry into the Stuttgart Open has been defended by WTA chief Steve Simon, who said it is in keeping with how former dopers are treated in other sports.
The 30-year-old Russian’s 15-month ban for using meldonium ends on Wednesday when she plays in the first round.
“You have to look at how other leagues and tours have handled players who have come back,” Simon told BBC Sport.
“They come right back to the team and start playing.”
Italy’s Roberta Vinci – Sharapova’s opponent in her comeback match on Wednesday – disagrees with the decision to invite the five-time Grand Slam champion into the main draw.
World number eight Agnieszka Radwanska, who Sharapova could meet in the second round, and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki have also questioned Sharapova’s presence at the tournament.
In addition to Stuttgart, Sharapova has been granted wildcards by the organisers of the events in Madrid and Rome.
She does not have a world ranking after her points expired during her suspension and would need to reach the final in Stuttgart to be eligible for French Open qualifying.
The Daily Telegraph report that Sharapova is likely to be given a wildcard into qualifying at Roland Garros rather than the tournament’s main draw.
“She is starting at ground zero,” Simon added.
“It is going to affect her seedings in big tournaments so she’s still going to pay a penalty for a while.
“If you think about it from other leagues, most of them [bans] are half of a season or a full season. She’s had a year and a half.”
Former world number one Kim Clijsters echoed that view, saying that Sharapova “has done her time and her punishment”.
“I was disappointed and surprised when the news came out but, having been on both sides of the spectrum as a tournament director and as a player, I don’t think she needs to be punished more,” the Belgian told BBC Sport. (BBC Sport)

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