Sharapova awarded main draw wildcard at US Open
Former world number one Maria Sharapova will make her first grand slam appearance in over 18 months after she was awarded a main-draw wildcard for the upcoming US Open, organisers said on Tuesday.
The 30-year-old Russian, who returned from a 15-month doping ban earlier this year, was denied a wildcard at the French Open, then missed the grass court season, including Wimbledon, with a thigh injury.
Sharapova tweeted on Tuesday: “Thank you, @usopen. This is so so special. #goosebumps”.
Sharapova tested positive for the drug meldonium in 2016, which had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned substances list in January of that year.
The winner of five grand slam titles, including the 2006 US Open, said she was unaware of the change.
“Her suspension under the terms of the tennis anti-doping programme was completed and therefore was not one of the factors weighed in our wild card selection process,” the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said in a statement.
“Additionally, Sharapova has volunteered to speak to young tennis players at the USTA National Campus about the importance of the tennis anti-doping programme and the personal responsibility each player has to comply with the programme’s requirements.”
Sharapova’s US Open preparations have been disrupted by an arm injury suffered during her first-round win over Jennifer Brady at the Stanford Classic earlier this month.
The world number 148 was forced to withdraw from the Rogers Cup and this week’s Cincinnati Open as a precautionary measure before the final grand slam of the year.
Other wildcard recipients on the women’s side were Americans Taylor Townsend, Kayla Day, Sofia Kenin, Ashley Kratzer, Brienne Minor and France’s Amandine Hesse.
The US Open runs from August 28 to September 10 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre at Flushing Meadows, New York.
Both the men’s and women’s singles champions this year will earn $3.7 million. (Reuters)