Maria Sharapova has been handed a wild card entry into the main draw of this year's US Open on the basis of being a former winner, as decided by the USTA. Following her 15-month ban from the game for testing positive for meldonium, this will be her first major tournament since January 2016.
The news came only hours after the Russian was denied a wild card entry in the French Open where the officials decided against giving her a chance in the Roland Garros draw. The United States Tennis Association (USTA), however, said they decided to give the 2006 US Open champion a wild card entry as it remained consistent with their policy of bestowing an entry to past winners.
A spokesman of the USTA said, “Her suspension under the terms of the tennis anti-doping program was completed and therefore was not one of the factors weighed in our wildcard selection process. Consistent with past practice, a wildcard was provided to a past US champion who needed the wildcard for entry into the main draw.”
The 30-year-old now joins the likes of Martina Hingis, Lleyton Hewitt, Kim Clijsters, and Juan Martín del Potro, who have previously been handed a wild card entry into the tournament.
“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,” added the USTA official.
This will be the first time that Sharapova plays a grand slam since the 2016 Australian Open when she was tested positive for banned drug meldonium. The World No.148 had to pull out this week’s Cincinnati Open after she struggled to recover from her left forearm injury that she suffered during her first-round win over Jennifer Brady in the Stanford Classic this month.