Maria Sharapova will find out on May 15 whether she will be invited to compete at the French Open after returning from a doping ban, with organisers saying the absence of pregnant Serena Williams will have no bearing on their decision.
French Tennis Federation officials told Spanish news agency EFE on Friday morning that its president, Bernard Giudicelli set the deadline to decide whether or not to invite Sharapova.
Two-time Roland Garros champion Sharapova makes her controversial return from a 15-month drugs ban next week at the Stuttgart Grand Prix.
The Russian, who celebrated her 30th birthday on Thursday, was offered a wildcard entry for Stuttgart because she no longer has a world ranking – a decision that angered some players.
Sharapova has also been offered a wildcard to clay-court events in Madrid and Rome.
French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli said last month that French Open organisers faced a moral dilemma over whether to invite Sharapova to the event starting May 28, hinting he was against the move.
The French Open will already be without the other biggest name in women’s tennis after Serena Williams announced Thursday she is pregnant with her first child and will sit out the 2017 season.
“Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are two unconnected cases,” Giudicelli said.
“We’re staging a Grand Slam, not a casting.”
If Sharapova is not offered a wildcard to the French Open, she still has a chance of competing via the qualifiers.
In order to do so she must earn enough points in the meantime by making the final in Stuttgart.
Five-time grand slam champion Sharapova was initially banned for two years by the International Tennis Federation after testing positive to meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.
Her ban was was reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in October.
Meldonium was a medication the Russian had been taking when it was within the rules, but which was later reclassified as a prohibited drug.
Sharapova has already taken part in two exhibition events since the CAS verdict was announced – playing at the World Team Tennis Smash Hits in Las Vegas and then taking on Olympic champion Monica Puig in Puerto Rico.