BACON’S BITES: Wimbledon must take a lead from the French. Sharapova must earn her right to play at SW19, a wildcard entry sends out so many bad signals

Maria Sharapova, no wildcard entry to the French Open

Maria Sharapova, no wildcard entry to the French Open - Credit: AP

I agree with the French Open tennis organisers’ decision not to hand Maria Sharapova a wildcard entry to their event.

The 30-year-old Russian was ranked too low to gain direct entry after her 15-month ban drugs ban when she tested positive for heart disease drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

So, consequently she was relying on a wildcard from the French Tennis Federation for a place at Roland Garos. They refused to hand it to her.

While not everyone agrees with the decision, I’m pretty confident that most people who, especially, love their tennis do think it was the right thing to do.

French Tennis Federation chief Bernard Giudicelli Ferrandini put it philosophically: “There can be a wildcard for the return from injuries - there cannot be a wildcard for the return from doping.

“I’m very sorry for Maria, very sorry for her fans.

“They might be very disappointed, she might be very disappointed, but it’s my responsibility, my mission, to protect the high standards of the game played without any doubt on the result.”

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For those comments the sport of tennis should be grateful to Monsieur Ferrandini.

Maria Sharapova speaks during a news conference in Los Angeles in March 2016 after she has failed a

Maria Sharapova speaks during a news conference in Los Angeles in March 2016 after she has failed a drug test at the Australian Open. - Credit: AP

It would probably have been a lot less hassle for the French authorities to hand Sharapova a wildcard entry. While some of Sharapova’s opponents may have been a bit hacked off, few fans would have been.

I’m not really interested in the whys and wherefores of Sharapova’s ban. She was caught, banned and that’s the end of it.

Tennis needs to nip doping in the bud if it is not to lose the confidence of the public – something that has hit a few other sports I could mention.

Sharapova’s ban was justified and she doesn’t deserve any special treatment from anyone on her return.

So, what next for Sharapova and, of course, Wimbledon?

Well, she has already earned a qualifying spot at the All-England Club and that, for me, is as far as it should go.

Let her qualify for the main draw.

Wimbledon joy: Maria Sharapova holds the Venus Rosewater dish after defeating Serena Williams in str

Wimbledon joy: Maria Sharapova holds the Venus Rosewater dish after defeating Serena Williams in straight sets 6:1/6:4 in the final of the Ladies' Singles tournament at Wimbledon in 2004. - Credit: PA

Although France and England may not see eye to eye on many thinges these days, Wimbledon officials should take the same stance as their French counterparts and not offer her a wildcard entry.

It’s a decision they will be coming to on June 20. Many will be watching closely.

Did you read about American golfer Clifton McDonald who shot a 127 in a US Open local qualifying round recently?

Poor McDonald didn’t manage a single par and only two bogeys on his way to his triple digit round.

He finished 55 over par!

The Alabama Golf Association admitted is was without doubt, “the highest score we’ve had in any qualifying event”.

My Woodbridge U18s retained their Suffolk Sunday Cup at Kirkley on Sunday, but I seem to be missing

My Woodbridge U18s retained their Suffolk Sunday Cup at Kirkley on Sunday, but I seem to be missing off this photo... Hang on I'll go and look for another!! - Credit: Archant

Now, before all you club golfers start to fall over your trollies with laughter, just you hang on... ‘But for the grace of God’, and all that.

We’ve all been there, unable to get our swing going, missing every fairway in sight, putting as though we were playing on greens at the Masters.

It could happen to (almost!) any of us.

And fair play (if not fairway!) to McDonald. At least he was gracious enough to see the round out – and even hand his card in.

I can think of many who wouldn’t. Indeed I can think of many who wouldn’t have done more than nine holes.

Indeed I even know of someone who, after getting a hole in one, couldn’t go to the bar to get the drinks in because he had to ‘pick his rabbit up from the vet’!

I kid you not.

Mr McDonald, take a bow for showing your class in trying circumstances.

We won our cup final!

If you read Bacon’s Bites last week you will know my Woodbridge U18 EJA side (well, as I have previously said, the team manager is really club chairman John Beecroft, I just clean up the tape in the dressing room afterwards), were in the Suffolk Sunday U18 cup final.

It was held at Kirkley & Pakefield FC and we beat a hard-working Framlingham Town team 4-0.

I was dragged kicking and screaming into the celebration photos, as you can imagine, but what can you do?

A wonderful season for us came to a fitting end.

After nine years now of involvement in youth football at Woodbridge, it really is time I thought about packing it all in and retiring to the ‘other side’ of the pitch.

I’ll think about it...

OK, just one more season then!

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