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Sharapova rivals are jealous ‘journeymen’, says agent

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Tennis player Maria Sharapova competes in the World TeamTennis Smash Hits charity tennis event benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation at Caesars Palace on October 10, 2016 in Las Vegas © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File / Ethan Miller

NEW YORK, United States, Apr 22 – Critics of Maria Sharapova possibly receiving a wildcard into the French Open just want to keep another title threat out of Roland Garros, the Russian star’s agent said in a report Friday.

Ben Rothenberg, a US-based tennis writer and podcaster, tweeted a statement Friday from Max Eisenbud, Sharapova’s agent, decrying the five-time Grand Slam champion’s critics.

Sharapova is set to return next week in Stuttgart from a 15-month doping ban as a wildcard entrant. She is expected to learn the week of May 15 if she will be able to compete at the French Open as a wildcard.

But hours after Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska told Polish media she feels Sharapova should not receive wild card entries for Grand Slam events, Eisenbud responded about her and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, who was critical of Sharapova getting a wildcard entry for the German tournament.

“All those ‘journeyman’ players like Radwanska and Wozniacki who have never won a slam and the next generation passing them. They are smart to try to keep Maria out of Paris,” Eisenbud said.

“NO Serena, NO Maria, NO Vika, NO Petra, it’s their last chance to win a slam,” he added, a nod to the absence of pregnant world number one Serena Williams, Czech Petra Kvitova and former world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, expected to return in July after having a baby.

Radwanska, 2-13 all-time against Sharapova, told Polish media she expects Sharapova to be “fierce” when she returns but made no secret that she felt Sharapova must start at the bottom and work her way back into elite events.

“This kind of entry into the tournament should apply to players who dropped in the ranking because of injury, illness or some other random event. Not for those suspended for doping. Maria should recover some other way, starting with smaller events,” Radwanska said.

“So far she hasn’t been invited to slams in Paris and London and in my opinion that’s how it should remain. She should win her spot by playing well.”

Radwanska said that if she were a tournament director, she wouldn’t give Sharapova a wild card.

“No,” she said. “She would never have a chance (to get one) from my hands.”

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