Sharapova given wildcard for US Open

Sharapova awarded US Open main draw wildcard

The decision to give a grand-slam wild card to a player who is yet to get her ranking up to the required level for direct entry - generally the top 100 - after serving a ban for failing a drug test is one which will be met with criticism.

"Sharapova has played in the US Open main draw 10 times before".

Previous US Open champions who have received US Open main draw wildcards include Martina Hingis, Lleyton Hewitt, Kim Clijsters and Juan Martin Del Potro. That is a major relief for the Russian tennis icon, who while struggling with missed tournaments and gameplay injuries, has only managed to work her way up to a world ranking of 148. She was planning to do that for Wimbledon, but was forced out of the grass grand slam with a muscle injury in her thigh. Her best performance was a semifinal finish at Stuttgart.

Early in Sharapova's return, the topic of her wild cards was a divisive issue among players.

A statement by the USTA considered that her suspension has already been served in full, and therefore had no weight in their considerations.

The 30-year-old won the US Open in 2006 and last played there in 2014, but will be unseeded for this year's event in NY.

But she has "powerful supporters" in the sport who felt she was being harshly treated, while the attitude towards her in the USA has been "largely been more forgiving" than in Europe.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal was thrilled to learn on Monday that he would return to world No. 1 for the first time in three years but sorry that it came because Roger Federer withdrew from this week's ATP Cincinnati Masters tournament.

The Russian was formally banned in June 2016 after testing positive for prohibited substance meldonium at that year's Australian Open. The five-time Grand Slam victor will face a hard road at the Open as one of eight wild card qualifiers.

She returned to competition two weeks ago at Stanford, but pulled out before her second match with a left-forearm injury.

"I'm sure that this is a great moment for her to have an opportunity to be back to where she has done so well", Venus Williams said.

She is a five-time grand slam victor, the second of which came at the US Open in 2016.

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