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Tennis: Roger Federer adds to Maria Sharapova wildcard debate that has tour divided

Maria Sharapova being awarded a wildcard to return at the Stuttgart WTA event in April has been a topic of discussion among a number of players on the ATP tour with the opinions divided on whether dopers should be granted automatic entry into tournaments.

The Russian former world number one is set to complete her 15-month ban imposed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after testing positive for Meldonium at last year's Australian Open.

Sharapova's ban ends on 26 April, which is two days after the tournament in Germany starts, but it has not stopped the organisers handing the former Wimbledon champion a wildcard for the tournament. This has stirred up a debate among fellow professionals about dopers being welcomed to tournaments immediately after their ban is lifted.

Andy Murray and Caroline Wozniacki have voiced their opinion against players being handed a way back into the tour at the cost of others, while the likes of Victoria Azarenka and Venus Williams feel that the tournament director did no wrong by handing one of the biggest draws in the women's game a wildcard.

Roger Federer refused to be drawn into the debate, but admitted that it could be looked at in different ways. The 18-time Grand Slam champion also suggested that the rules allowing tournament directors to take a final call be looked at.

"It´s a tough one. What do you want me to tell you? Like you said, because it´s the first, it kind of is what it is. You know, some people will like it; some people won´t. She paid the price for what she did, so that´s all you can say there," Federer said, as quoted on tennisworldusa.org.

"I see the argument of players being or people being turned off by it to get wildcards, to others who believe, well, she served her time. It´s all cool now. It´s all over.

"You could definitely revisit the rule potentially, which is to decide is it really just up to the tournaments, that one tournament director to decide if maybe Maria, or anybody now, just hypothetically speaking, deserves a wildcard or not, you know, after a ban. Or should wildcards not be part of the equation, certain level of tournaments? I´m not sure. I think it´s a good debate to have, for sure, but at the same time, you know, it´s a tricky one. I´m sure she´s happy that she´s back playing," the 18-time Grand Slam champion added.


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