Shara­pova seems to make the moral com­pass swing wildly

Weekend Herald - - WHAT’S ON -

Where do you stand on Maria Shara­pova? I’ll wager it’s a ques­tion on the tip of your tongue. Af­ter all, there’s not much else about, save some sailors charg­ing about on two- legged speed ma­chines and peo­ple pon­tif­i­cat­ing on the re­ally big ques­tions, such as: Will the Lions re­ally be any good?

So I throw out Shara­pova, so to speak, for your con­sid­er­a­tion.

This is the Shara­pova who copped a 15- month dop­ing sus­pen­sion for tak­ing a banned drug mel­do­nium, has never shown a shred of re­morse or apol­ogy and now wants back, by the fastest route pos­si­ble.

She has al­ready re­ceived some help­ing hands up from tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ers in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome.

In the Ger­man event, Shara­pova was beaten in the semi­fi­nals by Kristina Mladenkovic of France; then Cana­dian Eu­ge­nie Bouchard tipped her over in two sets in the sec­ond round, hav­ing poured forth her scorn to­wards Shara­pova.

Add in a re­tire­ment, at 1- 1 in the third set with Croat Mir­jana Llu­ci­cBa­roni this week in Rome, and that’s the sum to­tal of her re­turn.

There was a set­back for Shara­pova when the boss of the French Open said “non” on the grounds that it could not award a place in the main draw, or qual­i­fy­ing, to a player re­cently re­turned from a drug ban.

But Eng­land’s Lawn Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion, who run the Aegon Classic in Birm­ing­ham, a leadup to Wim­ble­don, have said “come on in Maria, here’s a wild­card”, which she’s grate­fully ac­cepted, and agreed to play there again next year as part of the deal.

The world’s 211th- ranked player had “paid the price” an LTA of­fi­cial said, be­fore us­ing com­mer­cial im­per­a­tives as the real rea­son for open­ing a door to Shara­pova.

The event needs a boost, clash­ing as it does with the men’s equiv­a­lent.

Sales tend to be weak although this time it has drawn eight of the world’s top 10 ranked women, who are pre­par­ing for Wim­ble­don.

Our friend at the LTA, Michael Downey, ad­mit­ted “some may ques­tion the moral com­pass of this de­ci­sion”. Get away. Never. Then he added the de­ci­sion should mean more money to re­de­ploy into play­ing ten­nis. There’s the rub.

It’s not ex­pected Shara­pova will get a wild­card into Wim­ble­don. Nor should she.

Shara­pova is an ex­am­ple of a sportswoman, ad­mit­tedly an oc­ca­sion­ally bril­liant one, with five Grand Slam ti­tles, who sim­ply marches to her own drum.

She has never made an at­tempt to be­friend her fel­low pro­fes­sion­als. She runs a solo oper­a­tion, so no sym­pa­thy from the locker room will be forth­com­ing any time soon.

I wouldn’t have a bar of her. Then again, if she agreed to stop the shriek­ing deci­bels, maybe.

The prob­lem is the to­tal re­fusal to ac­cept she did any­thing wrong from the time she tested pos­i­tive at the Aus­tralian Open last year.

There are times when there’s some merit in fall­ing on your sword, up goes the hand, it’s a fair cop guv, even if I didn’t re­ally un­der­stand what I was in­gest­ing.

You might then fool some of the peo­ple.

The prob­lem is the to­tal re­fusal to ac­cept she did any­thing wrong from the time she tested pos­i­tive at the Aus­tralian Open.

David Leg­gat

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