posted on Jul, 8 2004 @ 03:26 PM
Tennis newest golden girl won't have the opportunity to strike gold at next month's Olympic Games. Wimbledon winner Maria Sharapova did not qualify
for a spot on the Russian squad when the Olympic team selections were made last month and won't receive a wild card entry into the eight-day Olympic
tennis tournament will be staged at the Olympic Tennis Center of the Athens Olympic Sports Complex, August 15th-22nd.
"It is a shame, I agree, but all the places have been allocated now," International Tennis Federation Secretary General Debbie Jevans told Reuters
today. "The problem is being on a team that is so strong."
A maximum of four players per country can compete in each of the singles events, and a maximum of two pairs per country can compete in each of the
doubles events. ATP and WTA computer rankings as of June 14th were used to select players eligible for direct acceptance in singles and doubles.
The four members of the Russian squad — Roland Garros champion Anastasia Myskina, Roland Garros runner-up Elena Dementieva, Nadia Petrova and
Svetlana Kuznetsova — were each ranked ahead of Sharapova on the June 14th deadline for team selections.
The 17-year-old Sharapova's stirring rise to the Wimbledon title has launched her to a career-high No. 8 in the rankings — giving her a spot as the
third-highest Russian-ranked woman behind the fourth-ranked Myskina and sixth-ranked Dementieva — and a prominent place as one of the brightest
stars in the tennis constellation.
Should one of the four Russian team members withdraw from the Olympics, Vera Zvonareva, who was ranked 14th, one spot ahead Sharapova on June 14th,
would be the first alternate.
"It is the National Olympic Committee (NOC) which selects the players," Jevans told Reuters. "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."
Copyright Tennis Week, 2004