Following the news that Russia has been banned from all major sporting events for four years for doping, it now seems that Maria Sharapova will also miss the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This is despite the fact she could have competed as a neutral.
Although the tennis player hasn't confirmed this, her appearance at an event that falls during the Olympics has been announced.
The former world No. 1 will be a team member for the Orange County Breakers, a professional World TeamTennis team. The two matches she is scheduled to play coincide with the opening week of Tokyo 2020.
In a press release, Sharapova says: “The competition in World TeamTennis is always strong and I am looking forward to playing in the team format again.”
“She is one of the toughest competitors out there and she has put together an incredible career," says Rick Leach, the Breakers coach. "She’ll be a great asset to the team and I know our fans are looking forward to watching her play.”
This is Sharapova's eighth season playing with the Breakers. Other players who have been on the Breakers' rostrum in the past include Victoria Azarenka and Eugenie Bouchard.
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Currently, Sharapova, who is ranked No.131 after shoulder surgery interrupted her season, would have trouble qualifying for the Olympics. She needs to be one of the top four Russian women after the 2020 French Open to qualify for a place and her current ranking is 14th.
In theory, she would also need to participate in the Fed Cup, something that she hasn't done so far during this Olympic cycle. Exceptions can be made but even is Sharapova rectified this, she might come up against another barrier.
In 2016 she was prohibited from competing at the Rio Olympics because of a 15-month doping suspension after she tested positive at the 2016 Australian Open for meldonium, a heart disease drug that had been added to the banned substance list on 1 January 2016, potentially impacting future eligibility.
Sharapova, one of just six WTA players to complete a Career Grand Slam in the Open Era by winning every major, was the Russian flag-bearer at the London 2012 opening ceremony. She went on to win the silver medal, losing to Serena Williams in straight sets.News Now - Sport News