Home > Sports > Tennis > Reuters > Report

No Olympics for Sharapova

Ossian Shine | July 08, 2004 17:57 IST

The door to next month's Olympic Games will remain barred to Wimbledon's newest champion Maria Sharapova, organisers said on Thursday.

Also Read

Quiet life over for Sharapova

Giggling Sharapova can't believe victory

Slide show: Ice Queen

Images: Wimbledon women's final

The 17-year-old Siberian has generated a tidal wave of interest in women's tennis across the globe since winning the grasscourt Grand Slam last weekend and her presence in Athens would have been a major boost to an event largely overshadowed by more traditional Olympic disciplines.

But despite becoming one of the sport's biggest drawcards virtually overnight, the teenager will not be allowed to compete at the world's greatest sporting extravaganza.

"It is a shame, I agree... but all the places have been allocated now," International Tennis Federation secretary General Debbie Jevans told Reuters on Thursday.

"The problem is being on a team that is so strong."

Russia's team, along with every other nation, was picked according to the world rankings on June 14, the cut-off date.

French Open champion Anastasia Myskina and runner-up Elena Dementieva were joined by Nadia Petrova and Svetlana Kuznetsova to make up the four-strong singles contingent.

Even if one of those players were to drop out between now and the beginning of the Games on August 13, Vera Zvonareva would take her place in the Russian team.

Zvonareva was ranked world number 14 to Sharapova's 15 on the cut-off date.

While Sharapova shook Wimbledon to its foundations with her powerful, refreshing game and amiable off-court personality, her compatriots failed to impress in the last Grand Slam before the Olympic Games.

Dementieva and Kuznetsova both suffered ignominious first-round defeats at the hands of little-known opponents.

Myskina struggled through to the third round while Zvonareva made it one better before falling to Lindsay Davenport -- Sharapova's semi-final victim.

"It is the National Olympic Committee (NOC) which selects the players," Jevans said. "And we have to have a cut-off date.

"The reason it was June 14 is that that was the closest date we could have to the Olympic deadline.

"Because we have world rankings in our sport, the NOCs have to base their selections on these.

"We do have wildcards, that's not the issue. The issue is that there is a maximum of four players from an individual country allowed in the Games. On the cut-off, there were four Russians ranked higher than Sharapova."

Sharapova, who moved to Nick Bollettieri's tennis camp in Florida as a seven-year-old a decade ago, is still fiercely proud of her heritage and nationality.

"Of course I am Russian," she said during her run to the Wimbledon crown last week. "I go back there, I have a house there... I am Russian."

Despite her keen sense of nationality, Sharapova is yet to represent Russia in Fed Cup -- the sport's inter-nation team tournament.

Last month she was left out of the team to face Argentina in the quarter-finals in Buenos Aires this weekend.

"We decided against inviting Sharapova because it would have been difficult for her to adapt to clay from grass in such a short time," team captain and Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpischev told Reuters at the time.

Article Tools
Email this article
Top emailed links
Print this article
Write us a letter
Discuss this article

Related Stories

Nothing in common with Sharapova

Myskina gets tips from 'Grandpa'

Myskina eager for Wimbledon

© Copyright 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Copyright © 2004 rediff.com India Limited. All Rights Reserved.