Denying Maria Sharapova, Inviting a Debate

But others rejected Simon’s interpretation of the French Open snub, including Nicole Gibbs, an American player and former star at Stanford who made her views clear first through her Twitter account and then in a follow-up interview on Wednesday.

“I don’t believe that withholding a wild card is a ‘penalizing’ action,” she wrote in an email. “A wild card is discretionary and not merit-based in nature, so it’s natural for public opinion and morality to creep into the deliberation process. But by criticizing the French Open, the WTA is making a pitch for preferential treatment for Maria that would not be made for other players.”

Still, Simon said he felt the French federation had gone beyond its brief.

“I think where we run into trouble,” he said, “is when we sign up for a program, and we agree to support the program and support the decisions that come from it, and then when the decisions come forward you decide to put your own spin on that and decide whether that’s enough or appropriate or interpret the decision. Then I think you are crossing the line.”

Nicolas Mahut, a French men’s player currently ranked 48th in singles and fourth in doubles, also contested the WTA’s position.

“Excuse me, Monsieur Simon, but Maria Sharapova is neither penalized nor sanctioned by the F.F.T,” Mahut wrote in French in a Twitter post. “She is simply not invited.”

She is far from Sharapova non grata elsewhere in France, however. Denis Naegelen, the owner and director of the tournament in Strasbourg, which she won in 2010, was still holding a wild card for Sharapova on Wednesday without much hope of her…

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