A hot topic this last week in tennis has been tournaments giving Maria Sharapova wildcards into their events.
Of course her sponsor and Stuttgart was the first to do it, and since Rome and Madrid have followed suit, granting the megastar entry into their events without ranking. Now the French Open and Wimbledon are debating the matter, and my guess is both will give welcome her back.
However, some players like Andy Murray don’t like that she can return to the sport and virtually pick right up where she left off. No need to play the lower tier events or qualifying or really no ranking penalty other than seeding.
But bottom line here is, she did the crime, she did the time. End of story. Once the ban ends she should again become just like any other player, and that means receiving wildcards.
Criminals who get out of jail are allowed to work — there’s no law against it — so why can’t a tennis player?
Yes, the “optics” don’t look great, but those are the rules as they stand. And since Sharapova’s a former Grand Slam champ, she’s entitled to unlimited wildcards. So in theory, she could keep playing events for years without having to worry at all about her ranking being too low to get into draws.
That said, if the WTA wants to make high profile dopers like Sharapova feel the pinch a little more, then remove the “unlimited” clause for life for players who are found to be cheating. If you are guilty, you lose that reward or the chance to have that reward. But I doubt the WTA would take that step because they and the tournaments know Sharapova = $$$.
So while I can understand the players taking offense, Maria did serve her suspension. And given the sad state of the WTA right, the women’s tour needs Sharapova back more than ever. Though I do wonder if tournaments still have to pay Sharapova her six-figure appearance just to show up IN ADDITION to having to give her the wildcard. She should really be paying them!
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