PARIS, France - Maria Sharapova was surprisingly denied a wildcard into the French Open on Tuesday, ending intense speculation about her place in the claycourt grand slam since she returned from a 15-month doping ban.
The 30-year-old Russian, a two-time former champion, who made her comeback last month after serving a suspension following a positive test for heart drug meldonium at last year's Australian Open, had hoped for a favour from the French Tennis Federation (FFT) because her ranking, currently 211, does not warrant an automatic place.
The decision was announced by the FFT on Facebook Live shortly before Sharapova was due to play her second round at the Italian Open in Rome.
It had been expected that the FFT would hand Sharapova, who won the 2012 and 2014 titles on the Parisian clay at least a wildcard into the qualifying tournament.
Sharapova's return has been dogged by criticism with several leading players voicing their disapproval at the decision of tournament organisers in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome to grant her a main draw wildcard.
The five-time 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 to claim a main draw spot at Wimbledon.