The Russian’s return from a 15-month ban for a doping violation has divided opinion with many players asking whether Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome were right to give her a wildcard into their events.

Sharapova reached the semi-finals on her return in Stuttgart last month, but did not have enough ranking points to get straight into the main draw in Paris, nor the qualifying event.

French Open
Highlights: Cilic overcomes Fognini in five-set epic
04/06/2018 AT 18:10

It what was a fairly forgettable day, Sharapova retired injured from her second round match with Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the Italian Open on Tuesday,.

It ends her hopes of qualifying on merit for Wimbledon's main draw.

The 30-year-old Russian, playing her third tournament back after the ban, was leading 2-1 in the deciding set but was unable to continue after apparently injuring her left thigh which was heavily strapped.

It completed a miserable evening for the five-times grand slam champion, currently ranked 211, who earlier found out that she had been refused a wildcard for the French Open.

However, her first round win against American Christina McHale in Rome means that her ranking will rise back inside the world's top 200 just in time to be guaranteed a place in the Wimbledon qualifying tournament.

A decision as to whether she is granted a main draw spot will be taken on June 20.

In explaining why there was no place for her at Roland Garros, FFT president Bernard Giudicelli admitted he had a moral responsibility to deny her a wildcard invitation, saying:

We did not want to treat Maria Sharapova differently. We are in talks with the tennis authorities on the plan we want to implement to fight against doping. We must have an ambitious plan, increase the number of blood tests because we know it's a major element in the fight against doping. Maria won twice here, but we have a huge (moral) responsibility.

‘Cheater Maria Sharapova should be banned for life’

As a Grand Slam, the French Open is perhaps less in need of extra publicity than a regular Tour event, its sponsorship and advance ticket sales largely unaffected by the presence of an individual player.

It was claimed the Roland Garros tournament, which announced the decision on Facebook Live at 1900 local time (6pm BST) on Tuesday, would feel under financial pressure to grant Sharapova a wildcard, either for qualifying which starts on May 22 or for the main draw six days later.

The issue of Sharapova has been a sensitive one.

Bouchard-Sharapova | Mutua Madrid Open 2017

Image credit: Getty Images

Giudicelli added that it would be difficult to give the former world number one a wildcard when it was spending a lot of money on anti-doping.

"It's complicated. We prefer that she returns completely rehabilitated," he said.

"Integrity is one of our strong points. We cannot decide, on the one hand, to increase the amount of funds we dedicate to the anti-doping battle and, on the other, invite her."

He later expanded on those comments explaining why Sharapova had been ignored:

She might be very disappointed, but it's my responsibility to protect the game, and game played without any doubts of results. There can be a wild card for return from injuries; there cannot be a wild card for return from doping.

Former player Guy Forget, now the French Open tournament director, has been canvassing opinion from within the sport as to what the reaction would be should Sharapova receive a wildcard.

Former world number one Martina Navratilova said this month that Sharapova should now be allowed to get on with her tennis and as a two-time champion in Paris could justifiably be given a wildcard into the main draw.

With the issue of revenue to consider, however, organisers - already hit by Monday's withdrawal of 18-times Grand Slam champion Roger Federer from the men's event - were tipped to give Sharapova a place.

In 2016, 17,689 people attended qualifying at Roland Garros, compared to 48,894 at the US Open. Add Sharapova to the qualifying event and interest would grow, including from broadcasters who provide most of the revenue.

“I think I'd be prepared to play in the juniors if I had to," Sharapova told reporters in Stuttgart last month.

"I think everyone in this room knows what a competitor I am and I don't take anything for granted and if I get the opportunity to be in a draw then I will take it.”

Maria Sharapova

Image credit: Getty Images

The five-times grand slam champion is also sweating on her place at Wimbledon with the cut-off for direct entries into the main draw on Monday. She needs a semi-final run in Rome this week to claim a main draw spot at Wimbledon by right.

Her opening round win means that she should have a guaranteed slot in the Wimbledon qualifying tournament.

With additional reporting from Reuters

French Open
Nadal destroys Pella in one-sided clash
31/05/2018 AT 14:52