SBD/May 16, 2017/Events and Attractions

French Open Decides Not To Grant Sharapova Wild Card Despite Possible Financial Benefits

Sharapova could have given the French Open a boost in publicity
The French Open today announced it will not give a "wild card for qualifying for French Open or to main draw to Maria Sharapova," according to the N.Y. Times' Christopher Clarey (TWITTER.com, 5/16). REUTERS' Simon Cambers noted the French Open may have been "under financial pressure" to give Sharapova a spot in the field. The French Open is "perhaps less in need of extra publicity" than a regular WTA event, with its sponsorship and advance ticket sales "largely unaffected by the presence of an individual player." However, as the "smallest of the four grand slam venues, Roland Garros has the lowest attendance and generates the least revenue." French Open Tournament Dir Guy Forget had been "canvassing opinion from within the sport as to what the reaction would be should Sharapova receive a wild card" after her suspension for doping. Roger Federer announced yesterday he will skip the major in order to prepare for the hard court season (REUTERS, 5/15).

GREENER PASTURES? The AP noted Sharapova yesterday "took advantage" of a wild card to defeat Christina McHale in the first round of the WTA event in Rome. The win "earned Sharapova enough points to enter the top 200" of the Wimbledon qualifying rankings and "earn at least a spot in qualifying at the All England Club" (AP, 5/15). In N.Y., Ben Rothenberg noted Wimbledon officials have "apparently been highly aware" of Sharapova's "potential presence at its qualifying event." Wimbledon qualifying in the past has been held with "open admission" at the "small Bank of England club" in Roehampton near southwest London. This year, the qualifying will be a "ticketed event, with attendance capped at 1,000 people." All England Lawn Tennis Club CEO Richard Lewis said that the "possibility of Sharapova’s descending onto the small facility in the same year was a mere coincidence" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/16).
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