Maria Sharapova missed almost the entire year of Grand Slams in 2016. So far in 2017, the WTA star has missed all three majors played to date after both Roland Garros and the All England Club declined to give the former World No. 1 a wild card entry into their respective tournaments. If Chris Evert, another former World No. 1, has her way, then Sharapova won't get into a Wild Card from Flushing Meadows for direct entry into the 2017 Us Open either.

Wild Cards are used to increase interest

Wild Cards in tennis are awarded to select players who have rankings that aren't high enough for direct entry into an event. Commonly, they are used to increase fan interest in an event. For instance, tournaments often award them to players that are from the host venue's country. In this way, local interest in the tournament is stimulated with implications for local television coverage and ticket sales.

In other instances, they are given to players that are exceptionally famous, even if they are not nationals of the host tournament's country. Maria Sharapova certainly fits the bill as exceptionally famous and that is one motive that Flushing Meadows would have for giving her a Wild Card, despite the fact that she is currently ranked well outside of the top 150.

Chris Evert feels that if Sharapova entered the qualifying draw for the 2017 US Open, then she would get into the main draw that way: "I just think that if she enters qualifying she will get through the qualifying," Evert claimed.

The tennis commentator also thinks that playing in the qualifiers would help Sharapova. However, on the ultimate issue of Sharapova getting a Wild Card, Evert thinks that Grand Slams should not give her one: "I just don’t think so. Regular tournament can give her a wildcard if they want to, the grand slams are a different status though, so I don’t think so."

Evert, in suggesting that qualifiers would be good for Sharapova, does discount the possibility that she might lose in them.

Furthermore, there is the matter of fatigue. In order to survive the qualifying draw, you need to win three rounds of tennis immediately ahead of the main draw. Any match can prove testing and that could tire a qualifier out ahead of the main draw.

Sharapova has a Wild Card for Toronto

But whether Sharapova gets a Wild Card or not for the US Open is a matter that will be revealed in the weeks ahead.

She does have a Wild Card for WTA Toronto soon. That is a tournament that has a lot of ranking points associated with the late rounds. If Sharapova can do very well in then she can put to rest Wild Card debates for events down the round. If she can win in Toronto, it would also put pressure on the US Open organizers to ensure that she's in the Grand Slam draw. After all, it wouldn't be a major if the champion from WTA Toronto wasn't included in the event as Toronto is an important tournament on the WTA Tour.

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