0933 GMT February 24, 2018
She has won the tournament twice and had at least slim ambitions of winning again, but the French Tennis Federation refused to offer her a wildcard following the completion of her suspension for a doping offence, the Guardian reported.
“If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, every day,” she posted on Twitter on Wednesday. “No words, games, or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams. And I have many.”
Defeat in Rome two hours after being denied that wildcard into Roland Garros means she will also have to rely on the kindness of friends if she is to play at Wimbledon next month.
Sharapova knew she had to reach at least the semifinals of the Italian Open to return by entry to the scene of her first major triumph, the 2004 Wimbledon final against Serena Williams, the supreme American who has tormented her on court ever since but is absent awaiting the arrival of her first child.
Two hours after taking the hammer blow from Paris, Sharapova limped off a floodlit Campo Centrale, this tournament’s cavernous centerpiece, with a thigh strain when a break up in the third set of her second-round match against the 35-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
Sharapova, who had left court for treatment after the second set, looked be taking control again at 4-6, 6-3, 2-1 when she swished airily at a ball behind the baseline, missed, reached for her strapped left thigh and quietly nodded her submission. There was a good smattering of sympathetic applause as she left, but she had bigger troubles to contemplate.
Sharapova had already secured a place in the qualifying tournament for Wimbledon by dipping back under 200 in the world rankings on Monday with a convincing win over the American Christina McHale; that at least keeps one door slightly ajar as she continues the early stages of her comeback from a 15-month suspension for failing a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open.
However, while she might hold out hopes that the All England Club committee headed by Tim Henman will yet grant her a wildcard for the main draw, those odds dwindled when the relatively new president of the French Tennis Federation, Bernard Giudicelli, surprised nearly everyone in the game with a firm “Non!” to her hopes of a free ride into the second slam of the year. Wimbledon will not want to look out of step with the French.