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French expect backlash over Sharapova wildcard for Roland Garros

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Maria Sharapova in action during the Rome Masters on May 15, 2017 © AFP / ANDREAS SOLARO

Paris, France, May 16 – French Open organisers are bracing for controversy ahead of Tuesday’s decision on whether to grant Maria Sharapova a wildcard for Roland Garros.

The decision on whether the former world number one, returning from a 15-month doping ban, will gain wildcard entry for the Grand Slam is to be announced at 1700 GMT by the president of the French Tennis Federation Bernard Guidicelli.

“Some say she shouldn’t get it, others say she served her time,” tournament director Guy Forget told the BBC.

“As you talk with players, it’s very controversial. So no matter what happens, there will be a lot of questions around that wildcard.”

The five-times Grand Slam winner was banned for two years for using meldonium, but the penalty was reduced to 15 months on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport which ruled she was not an intentional doper.

After the ban expired last month, the Russian returned to competition at the Stuttgart Open, reaching the semi-finals, and progressed to the last 32 of the Madrid Open, too late to earn herself a qualifying spot for Paris.

On Monday she won her opening match at the Rome Masters, guaranteeing a qualifying spot at Wimbledon and she could earn a slot in the main draw if she reaches the semi-finals of the event she has won three times.

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