Pat Cash believes Wimbledon should follow the French Open's lead and ban Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova sits in a break during her a match at the Madrid Open. Photo / AP
Maria Sharapova sits in a break during her a match at the Madrid Open. Photo / AP

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash has congratulated the French Tennis Federation on not giving Maria Sharapova a wildcard and has urged the All England Club to do the same.

Sharapova, who has just served a 15-month suspension for a positive drug test, was widely expected to be fast-tracked into the year's second grand slam tournament, which she has won twice.

But the French Tennis Federation (FFT) took the unexpected decision on Tuesday to refuse her entry.

And that pleased Australia's 1987 Wimbledon winner Cash.

"I think well done to them (FFT). I think it is absolutely the correct decision," he told the BBC.
"She certainly should not be getting benefits from the fact that she got caught using an illegal drug.

Cash said he was disappointed the Italian federation had offered up a wildcard this week but hoped there'd be no such offer from Wimbledon officials. "I would hope they (Wimbledon) would stay strong and say 'no sorry, you have got to go through and play qualifying'," Cash said.

"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."


For her part Sharapova said she remains fully committed to making a successful comeback from her doping ban, regardless of what assistance she receives.

"If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, everyday," Sharapova said on Twitter on Wednesday. "No words, games, or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams. And I have many." Sharapova's return from her ban has split opinion in tennis circles, with some players arguing she is being given special treatment after receiving wildcards for tournaments in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome.

Accepting the decision to bar her from the French Open without rancour would give the Russian a chance to rise above the furore, according to former world number three Pam Shriver.

Shriver said Sharapova needed to come to terms with what had happened and turn her attention to preparing for Wimbledon, where she is already one of the bookmakers' favourites for the title.

"She's smart and savvy," Shriver, who won 21 grand slam women's doubles titles, said on ESPN. "She needs to take a step back and reconcile that her return to major tennis is going to have to wait and not be bitter about it. "It's a chance to be above it all and complimentary." Sharapova tested positive for heart disease drug meldonium at last year's Australian Open.

The Russian said she had taken the drug "legally" throughout her career to treat medical conditions and had not realised it had been added to WADA's banned list a few weeks before the tournament began.

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