US Open gives Maria Sharapova a chance - now can she use it?

Sharpova will be back in action at the US Open.                     Image SIPA USA  PA Images

Sharpova will be back in action at the US Open. Image SIPA USA PA Images

The former World No.1 and five-time Grand Slam victor tested positive for the banned substance meldonium in 2016 and was handed a 15-month doping ban.

Maria Sharapova described her wildcard for the US Open as "so, so special", adding that it gave her goosebumps.

The Open had never denied a wild card to a past champion that required it. Martina Hingis, Juan Martin del Potro and Lleyton Hewitt were granted wild cards coming off injury impacted seasons.

Now ranked 148 in the world, the Russian has a lifetime 32-9 record in Flushing Meadows, including her 2006 title over Justine Henin. She had her chance to compete in Wimbledon to finally get back onto the Grand Slam stage, but she dropped out of the competition due to a thigh injury. That escalated when she received a 15-month doping ban for a substance that had been recently outlawed: Meldonium, which is used to treat coronary heart disease, and is perceived as a performance enhancing drug.

Sharapova suffered an injury to her left arm during her first-round match at the Stanford Classic last week, and withdrew from Cincinnati this week ahead of the year's final major.

"When the match was over, Serena hugged me", she said.

But the US Tennis Association said her ban was not a factor in its considerations as she had served her punishment.

Sharapova first rose to prominence in 2004 when winning Wimbledon as a 17-year-old and has since gone on to complete the career Grand Slam - including the US Open in 2006. Depending on how you feel about doping regulation-did she find herself on the wrong side of a blurry, poorly defined line that all her peers are constantly toeing, only more carefully? or did she do something totally beyond the pale of competitive sport?-you may, uh, have some strong opinions about this.

The five-time Grand Slam champion was initially suspended for two years for doping, but the penalty was later reduced to 15 months.

The Russian star returned to competition at the Stuttgart Open in April.

The U.S. Open begins on August 28th.

She also clinched the silver in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and was the 2008 Federations Cup champion.

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