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Sharapova: 'I will rise up again'

Tennis

Maria Sharapova is vowing to "rise up again," a day after she was denied a wild-card entry for the French Open - but former Australian champion Pat Cash wants her similarly barred from Wimbledon.

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Sharapova, who has just served a 15-month suspension for a positive drug test, was widely expected to be fast-tracked into the year’s second grand slam tournament, which she has won twice.

But French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli yesterday announced the 30-year-old would not be invited to play at Roland Garros, where the main draw starts on May 28.

On her Twitter feed overnight, Sharapova posted: “If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, everyday. No words, games, or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams. And I have many.”

Sharapova’s return from her ban has split opinion in tennis circles, with some players arguing she is being given special treatment after receiving wildcards for tournaments in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome.

Accepting the decision to bar her from the French Open without rancour would give the Russian a chance to rise above the furore, according to former world number three Pam Shriver.

Shriver said Sharapova needed to come to terms with what had happened and turn her attention to preparing for Wimbledon, where – if she is permitted entry – she is already one of the bookmakers’ favourites for the title.

“She’s smart and savvy,” said Shriver, who won 21 grand slam women’s doubles titles.

“She needs to take a step back and reconcile that her return to major tennis is going to have to wait and not be bitter about it,” she told ESPN.

“It’s a chance to be above it all and complimentary.”

But Australia’s former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash congratulated the French Tennis Federation on not giving the five-time Grand Slam winner a wildcard and urged the All England Club to do the same.

“I think well done to them (FFT). I think it is absolutely the correct decision,” he told the BBC.

“She certainly should not be getting benefits from the fact that she got caught using an illegal drug.”

Cash said he was disappointed the Italian federation had offered up a wildcard this week but hoped there’d be no such offer from Wimbledon officials.

“I would hope they would stay strong and say ‘no sorry, you have got to go through and play qualifying’,” Cash said.

“I certainly think the All England Club need to stand up and make a stance about this and say we are not rewarding drug cheats.”

Sharapova tested positive for heart disease drug meldonium at last year’s Australian Open.

The Russian said she had taken the drug “legally” throughout her career to treat medical conditions and had not realised it had been added to WADA’s banned list a few weeks before the tournament began.

-Reuters, AP

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