Maria Sharapova is penned in to feature in her first major tournament since serving a 15-month drug suspension after it was confirmed she’s been given a wildcard spot in the 2017 U.S. Open.
The New York tournament is scheduled to begin on August 28 and will give Sharapova her first chance at a Grand Slam since the 2016 Australian Open, having been denied a wildcard place at this year’s French Open.
Not only that, but Sharapova will enter the U.S. Open as one of the favourites to win the event and is priced at 8/1 (9.00) alongside Britain’s Johanna Konta with Willian Hill, not far behind joint-frontrunner Garbine Muguruza, who is a 6/1 (7.00) shot for the title.
The 30-year-old also had the opportunity to feature at this year’s Wimbledon Championship but missed the competition due to a thigh injury.
Five-time Grand Slam-winner Sharapova was handed a two-year suspension from tennis after testing positive for meldonium, a banned substance used to treat heart disease.
The United States Tennis Association, the body that organises the U.S. Open, told BBC Sport Sharapova’s willingness to educate youngsters on doping in sport had no bearing on her wildcard inclusion:
“Her suspension under the terms of the tennis anti-doping program was completed and therefore was not one of the factors weighed in our wildcard selection process.
“Additionally, Sharapova has volunteered to speak to young tennis players at the USTA National Campus about the importance of the tennis anti-doping program and the personal responsibility each player has to comply with the program’s requirements.”
Image courtesy of CNN.
2017 Women’s U.S. Open Odds
Garbine Muguruza: 6/1 (7.00)
Karolina Pliskova: 6/1 (7.00)
Victoria Azarenka: 7/1 (8.00)
Johanna Konta: 8/1 (9.00)
Maria Sharapova: 8/1 (9.00)
Simona Halep: 9/1 (10.00)
Elina Svitolina: 12/1 (13.00)