Tennis stars debate Maria Sharapova's wild card status for French Open

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Andy Roddick has spoken ahead of Maria Sharapova potentially being given a wild card entrance to the upcoming French Open which starts on Monday, May 22.  

The former world number one is torn as to whether Sharapova should be given entrance to the next Grand Slam tournament.

"It's two different issues - the issue of morality and how you view it, and the issue of business," Roddick told ESPN.

"If there's a smaller event that will benefit from having Maria, I don't begrudge them giving her the card. The Grand Slams are different. They're held to a higher standard because there's so much interest in them." 

Roddick believes the French Open is far too big an event for the Russian tennis star, who was banned for 15 months following a doping suspension last year, to return.

The point Roddick is making is that the eyes of all tennis fans across the world will be on the French Open, and offering Sharapova a wild card due to her previous status could be seen as unfair.

This is a unique situation as many other tennis players have made returns following suspension from the game, however, none with the prowess and celebrity status of the Russian five-time Grand Slam winner.

In Roddick's interview, he was responding to the comments made by world number one Andy Murray, who suggested that Sharapova should really have to prove herself before getting back on the big stage.

"I think you should really have to work your way back," Murray told reporters last week in reference to Sharapova's return.

The Russian will be unranked when she makes her return next month and she has already been offered two wild card entrances into tournaments, including one that has already started on the day her ban expires on April 26.

Two tournaments that precede the French Open in Madrid and Rome respectively have already offered Sharapova a wild card entrance due to her prestigious former status.

However, even if Sharapova wins both those events, she will still not of earned enough points to gain automatic qualification for the French Open and would therefore have to rely on a wild card entrance.

The French Open president Bernard Giudicelli has also expressed his concern regarding Sharapova's entrance.

"It's complicated...Integrity is one of our strong points. We cannot decide, on the one hand, to increase the amount of funds we dedicate to the anti-doping battle and, on the other, invite her."

Roddick went on to stress the difference between the Major and Masters tournaments when dealing with this issue. 

"If the French Federation doesn't want to give her the wild card, that's their prerogative. The higher level of interest in that event also means a higher level of responsibility. But it's naive to pretend that their situation isn't different from that of a small tournament that can really benefit from Sharapova's presence."

Other players, such as Nick Kyrgios have also given their opinion on the matter. 

"I'm anti-anything that's performance-enhancing, massively against it," Nick said.

"I'm not the one to say what [violators] should -- or shouldn't -- get afterwards, but it doesn't make sense to support people who cheat."

Jack Sock the American, hasn't given it much thought he admits. 

"I haven't thought about it, to be honest. I don't know. It's a tournament director's decision who gets [wild cards]. As a player, I have no say one way or another."

It will therefore be an incredibly interesting topic, as the French Open will potentially make the decision a lot easier for the following Majors, with Wimbledon being the next to make a decision over the fate of the Russian fan favourite. 

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Rafael Nadal
Maria Sharapova
Roger Federer
Novak Djokovic
French Open
Andy Murray

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