Maria Sharapova awarded main draw wildcard at US Open

The powerful reason why Serena Williams was proud of being on the cover of'Vogue

Former world No1 Maria Sharapova is set to play her first grand slam event since returning from a drug ban after she was granted a wild card for this month's US Open.

Soon after that tournament, the International Tennis Federation suspended Sharapova after she failed a drug test for meldonium, which had been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency starting January 1 of that year.

"Consistent with past practice, a wildcard was provided to a past USA champion who needed the wildcard for entry into the main draw". In general, wild cards are often granted to former greats returning from injury who would not otherwise qualify on ranking alone, or to plucky local upstarts deemed deserving of a chance to breakout.

Sharapova, who has won five grand slam titles, added that she and Williams "should be friends", given they share the same passion, but the pair have "driven each other" in recent years.

Sharapova has played in only four events since her doping suspension expired in April.

"She has handled her suspension with dignity and respect", Bernard Giudicelli, president of the French Tennis Federation, said at the time. "So it is up to Maria day after day, tournament after tournament, to find alone the strength she needs to win the big titles without owing anything to anyone".

"Consistent with past practice, a wild card was provided to a past US Open champion who needed the wild card for entry into the main draw", the USTA said.

The question is: Can Sharapova make an immediate return to form at Flushing Meadows?

But she now has the opportunity to replicate her 2006 success in NY, having pulled out of this week's Western & Southern Open with an arm problem to focus on the final grand slam of the year. She was planning to do that for Wimbledon, but was forced out of the grass grand slam with a muscle injury in her thigh. Sharapova also declined playing at the WTA tennis tournament in Canada's Toronto on August 5-13.

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