Maria’s wildcard return not an issue, says Chris
and serving a 15-month ban, can play in the big events and she has accepted invitations to tournaments in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome in the next two months.
“You can’t blame the tournaments really for wanting to be successful and wanting to enhance their tournament by having a big draw like Maria Sharapova,” Chris said on a conference call from Indian Wells, where she is a television com- mentator for ESPN at the BNP Paribas Open.
“She is doing everything within the rules and she (will have) fulfilled her obligation of 15 months so I am not critical of that decision that the tournament made whatsoever.”
Maria was among the top 10 players in the world when she tested positive for the banned substance meldonium at last year’s Australian Open.
The 29-year-old Russian’s twoyear ban by the International Tennis Federation was later reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Maria said this year that she would return to competition at the Stuttgart Grand Prix, the main draw for which starts on April 24, the penultimate day of the five-time grand slam champion’s ban.
Men’s World No 1 Andy Murray said he wished players would not get any favours on returning from bans regardless of their popularity while Dane Caroline Wozniacki called the decision to allow Maria to play “disrespectful.”
At the moment, Maria would need a wildcard from the French Tennis Federation to play in the French Open.
Her performances in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome could avoid forcing the All England Club into making the same decision regarding this year’s Wimbledon. Reuters