Maria Sharapova deflects questions about a U.S. Open wild card

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The five-time Grand Slam champion wasn't given a wild card into the French Open. (AP)

Maria Sharapova says she is not getting caught up in speculation about whether she will receive a wild card for the U.S. Open, but is instead concentrating on her performance this week in Stanford.

"So much was put on the decision of the wild card of the French Open, and it didn’t work out," she told local press following her first-round win at the WTA event. "It’s not something that I’m focusing on."

The five-time Grand Slam champion is ranked No. 171, and would require a wild card to get into the main draw at the U.S. Open. She would otherwise get into the qualifying event.

Sharapova was refused a wild card for the French Open amidst huge publicity as she returned from a 15-month suspension for testing positive for meldonium. She decided not to request a wild card for Wimbledon, amid suggestions that the tournament was leaning against giving it to her, and eventually did not play during the grass-court season because of injury.

Sharapova indicated that she does not want a repeat of the experience.

“When I started playing in the clay season, there was so much focus on the French Open wild card and Wimbledon, and really around the Grand Slams,” she said. “And I understand that the Grand Slams are the big events, they’re the ones you want to compete at. But when you’ve been away from the game for such a long period of time, my focus is solely on the event that I’m playing at. 

"And for me, playing here is just as big, and I’ll take away a lot of positives, maybe a few negatives, and I’ll have to work through those just as much as I would at the U.S. Open."

Sharapova, who is playing a WTA tournament in the U.S. for the first time since 2015, won her first round in front of the second-biggest crowd the tournament has had on its opening day. She told spectators that "the welcome has been incredible."

Asked about the more critical reaction of many of her fellow players, who have said she should not be receiving wild cards as she comes back, the 30-year-old Russian instead pointed to tournament officials who have helped her upon her return.

Sharapova has so far received wild cards into WTA events in Stuttgart, Madrid, Rome, Birmingham, Stanford, Toronto and Cincinnati, and also been offered wild cards by other events. She withdrew from Birmingham with injury.

"I’m very fortunate and grateful for the tournaments that have provided me wild cards, and I would say that 99 percent of them have at this point," she said. "A lot of these events I’ve played at before, and I have a history with the people and the fans and the tournament itself, so the opportunities that I have, I’m taking it. 

"I want to perform, I want to perform well, and it means a lot to me to be here."

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