French Open makes right decision about Simona Halep while snubbing Dominic Thiem

2018 French Open champion Simona Halep was one of several big names to not receive a wildcard to the year's second major.
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On May 14, 2024, wildcards for the 2024 French Open main draws and qualifying draws were announced. While wildcards were granted to the retiring Alize Cornet and a slew of other French players, the retiring Dominic Thiem was surprisingly left off of the list. Thiem, a former US Open champion and two-time French Open finalist, announced his retirement at the end of the season. Thiem's omission from the list of wildcards confused and angered many fans.

The women's wildcards also were devoid of several big names and major champions: Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber, Emma Raducanu, and Simona Halep. Fans have also been vocal about the lack of these players on the wildcards list.

Raducanu has been working her way back into form this year and could find herself in the main draw if a few more players withdraw ahead of the tournament. Wozniacki, who made the round of 16 at last year's US Open, would have to start in the qualifying draw should she want to play at the French Open. Kerber is not on the qualifying entry list, so she will miss the French Open despite winning three matches and pushing Iga Swiatek in Rome.

Simona Halep gets denied and Dominic Thiem gets snubbed

Perhaps the most vociferous outrage from the wildcards announcement has come from fans of Simona Halep. Halep, one of the most popular players on tour, returned to tour this year after her doping sentence was reduced through her successful appeal. Halep's suspension, trial, and appeal have undoubtedly been an arduous journey for the former world number one.

The decisions by the International Tennis Integrity Agency and Court of Arbitration for Sport have been voluminous and, at times, confusing. However, one thing that continues to be misunderstood is that Halep was not "cleared."

Yes, Halep won her appeal and her sentence was reduced. However, she was not cleared of all wrongdoing. The Court of Arbitration for Sport found that Halep did not exercise sufficient care and bore some level of fault or negligence for the banned substance roxadustat being in her system. The Court bought Halep's explanation that the roxadustat came from a tainted supplement and she did not intend to dope. However, this does not mean that Halep was "cleared," as a nine-month doping ban remained enforced.

The French Tennis Federation has certainly made some questionable decisions in the past. Remember the catsuit incident with Serena Williams? However, the Federation seems to have again taken a stand that it will not award wildcards to players returning from doping suspensions.

In 2017, two-time French Open champion Maria Sharapova was not granted a wildcard into either the main draw or qualifying draw. Then-president of the French Tennis Federation Bernard Giudicelli stated that Sharapova was not given a wildcard because even though her suspension had been reduced, she still had been found at fault for doping, whether intentional or not.

Simona Halep undoubtedly will bring fans to a tournament if she is awarded a wildcard. However, I believe the French Tennis Federation was right in its decision to not grant her a wildcard to the major. If Halep wants to return to the sport, she should have to rise up the ranks again and play in lower-level tournaments.

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