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French Open decides on Sharapova today



Maria Sharapova loses at Stuttgart Open semis
Maria Sharapova: D-Day on French Open

The French Tennis Federation will announce today whether Maria Sharapova will receive a wild card into this year’s French Open.

The Russian’s return from a 15-month ban for a doping violation has divided opinion with many players asking whether Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome were right to give her a wild card into their events.

Sharapova reached the semi-finals on her return in Stuttgart last month but did not have enough ranking points to get straight into the main draw in Paris, nor the qualifying event.

As a grand slam event, the French Open is perhaps less in need of extra publicity than a regular Tour event, its sponsorship and advance ticket sales largely unaffected by the presence of an individual player.

However, the Roland Garros tournament, which will announce the decision on Facebook Live at 1900 local time (1700 GMT) on Tuesday, may feel under financial pressure to grant Sharapova a wild card, either for qualifying which starts on May 22 or for the main draw six days later.

As the smallest of the four grand slam venues, Roland Garros has the lowest attendance and generates the least revenue, and a decade-long stalemate over its plans to expand means it faces being left behind as the other slams continue to grow.

French Open revenue was 187.3 million euros ($205 million) in 2015, compared to Wimbledon at 169.7 million pounds ($219 million) and the U.S. Open ($291 million).

Even the Australian Open, long considered the weakest of the four, has caught up in revenue terms, generating the equivalent of 188 million U.S. dollars in 2015 and 207 million in 2016, with a further anticipated rise from this year.

Roland Garros is also lagging behind in terms of facilities. The Australian Open has a roof over three courts while the U.S. Open will have a second roof by 2018 and Wimbledon will add a second one by 2019.

The French Open has none which has an adverse effect on television rights, where the guarantee of play no matter the weather will boost revenue.

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