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Sport Tennis Maria Shaparova Roland Garros 2017

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How do you solve a problem like Maria? Don't invite her to Roland Garros

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Maria Sharapova's request to compete at the 2017 French Open in Paris has been turned down. Reuters/Max Rossi

And on go her woes. Maria Sharapova's failed drugs test during the 2016 Australian Open scuppered her career again on Tuesday night when she was denied an invitation for the 2017 French Open which starts in Paris on 28 May.


Bernard Guidicelli, the president of the French tennis federation (FFT), said he was sorry for Sharapova but added: "It is my responsibility and my mission to respect the high standards of the game to be played without any doping."

The decision - delivered on Facebook Live - leaves the clay court showpiece without another of the game's biggest names. The 2009 champion Roger Federer said on Monday that he would miss the event to rest his ageing body and prepare for the grass and hard court seasons later in the year. Three time winner Serena Williams will also be absent while she prepares for the birth of her first child.

Sharapova, who once likened her movements on clay to those of a cow on ice, reconfigured her poise sufficiently to claim the singles crown in 2012. Two years later she was queen again. With Williams missing and the 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza out of sorts, Sharapova would have been a contender for the title.

"Nobody can deprive her of her two triumphs at Roland Garros but I can't grant her the wildcard requested," said Giudicelli. "The titles won here, she won within the rules without owing anything to anyone. While wildcards exist for players returning from injury, there is nothing for a return from a doping ban.

"I know the media dimension of Maria and I'm measuring the expectations of the public and sponsors. But in all conscience it didn't appear possible to me to go beyond the strict application of the world anti-doping code."

Steve Simon, the chief executive of the WTA which organises the women's game, was furious with the FFT's line. He said the decision was groundless.

"She has complied with the sanction imposed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. "The tennis anti-doping programme is a uniform effort supported by the Grand Slams, WTA, International Tennis Federation and the men's Association of Tennis Professionals.

"There are no grounds for any member of the anti-doping programme to penalise any player beyond the sanctions set forth in the final decisions resolving these matters."

However Simon did acknowledge that tournament organisers could choose the destination of the wildcards.

The snub was the nadir of a bleak day for 30-year-old Sharapova. She had to retire due to an injury to her left leg from her second round match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the Italian Open. Her first round win in Rome guaranteed a spot in the qualifying tournament for Wimbledon.

A surge to the last four in Rome would have furnished her with a place in the main draw at Wimbledon. Sharapova will have to seek the munificence of the organisers in south-west London for a wildcard invitation into the main draw of the event where she won her first grand slam in 2004.

Back then meldronium was a legal substance. And it was prescribed for Sharapova in 2006 to help her fight a magnesium deficiency and also because of a family history of diabetes.

It was added the banned list of drugs on 1 January 2016. Sharapova and her entourage failed to notice the change and they paid the price for their lack of precision.

Since her 15 month suspension ended in April, Sharapova has played at the Stuttgart Open where she reached the semi-finals. She also advanced to the last 32 of the Madrid Open in May.

But for the right to compete on the centre courts of the circuit's most prestigious tournaments, the former world number one is now relying on a grace that she, as a champion, could never allow - mercy.