Maria Sharapova granted wildcard entry into main draw of US Open

It is a move that will be met with criticism and, as part of the decision from the United States Tennis Association, Sharapova has agreed to speak to young US players about the anti-doping programme.

'The USTA has granted Maria Sharapova a wildcard into the main draw of the US Open,' a USTA statement said. 'Her suspension under the terms of the tennis anti-doping programme was completed and therefore was not one of the factors weighed in our wildcard selection process.

'Consistent with past practice, a wildcard was provided to a past US champion who needed the wildcard for entry into the main draw.

'Additionally, Sharapova has volunteered to speak to young tennis players at the USTA National Campus about the importance of the tennis anti-doping programme and the personal responsibility each player has to comply with the programme's requirements.'

Sharapova is currently suffering from a left forearm injury which forced her to pull out of this week's Cincinnati Open. It has disrupted her preparations for the US Open — which starts on August 28 — though not having to go through qualifying will give her more time to recover.

Twelve-time Grand Slam singles champion Billie Jean King was among those welcoming the news on Tuesday night.

The 73-year-old American tweeted: 'Glad to see USTA give Maria Sharapova a wildcard, suspension over, great for the sport to have her back.'

Chris Evert, the 18-time Grand Slam champion, said last month that Sharapova should have to go through qualifying rather than being gifted a spot. 'I don't necessarily think that in the Grand Slams she should be given a wildcard,' Evert said. 'Regular tournaments can give her a wildcard if they want to.

'The Grand Slams are a different status, though, so I don't think so.'

Sharapova's last Grand Slam appearance was at the 2016 Australian Open. It was in June of that year that she was hit with a two-year suspension for testing positive for heart disease drug meldonium.

The ban was reduced to 15 months following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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