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Pat Cash urges Wimbledon to 'stay strong' over deny Maria Sharapova wildcard

Pat Cash urges Wimbledon to 'stay strong' over deny Maria Sharapova wildcard
By PA Sport

17/05/2017 at 13:48

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash hopes the All England Club will "stay strong" and not offer Maria Sharapova a wildcard entry into this year's championships.

The French Tennis Federation announced on Tuesday that the Russian, a two-time French Open champion, would not be invited to play at Roland Garros as she continues to return to competitive tennis following a 15-month suspension for testing positive for meldonium.

Sharapova was not able to acquire enough ranking points to secure an automatic place in qualifying for the tournament in Paris and so was reliant on a wildcard, with FFT president Bernard Giudicelli hinting that the rejection was due to her recent ban.

WTA chief executive Steve Simon, however, condemned the reasoning for the snub to Sharapova, who had her sanction reduced from two years by the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS).

Sharapova was forced to retire from her second-round clash at the Italian Open in Rome because of an injury to her left leg, having took to the court just 30 minutes after Giudicelli's announcement.

The 30-year-old would have needed to reach the semi-finals to gain automatic entry into the main Wimbledon draw, but has at least secured a place in the qualifying event at Roehampton should she be fit enough to take part.

The decision on whether to award Sharapova, who won Wimbledon in 2004 as an unheralded teenager, a wildcard for direct entry to the SW19 tournament is due to be taken at a meeting on June 20 of the All England Club's sub-committee, chaired by former British number one Tim Henman.

Australian Cash, however, hopes the only way the Russian will turn out at Wimbledon later this summer is if she has earned a place by right.

The 1987 men's singles champion said to BBC Radio 5 Live: "I think well done to them (FFT). I think it is absolutely the correct decision.

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

"I am a bit disappointed that the Italian federation haven't done the same thing by giving her a wildcard here in Rome this week, even though she didn't get through."

Cash continued: "I would hope they (Wimbledon) would stay strong and say 'no sorry, you have got to go through and play qualifying'.

"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."

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