The US Tennis Association announced its US Open wild cards Tuesday.
And, as usual, with the exception of the reciprocal wild cards bartered with the Australian Open and the French Open, they are going to Americans.
There is one notable exception.
Maria Sharapova has been awarded a pass into the women’s singles main draw.
It’s a privilege she was denied at both the French Open and Wimbledon. But as a longtime US resident and a former champion, it seemed a reasonable slam-dunk.
What remains to be seen is whether she can play, after only one match since early May because of injuries.
Further comment from the USTA on Maria Sharapova's wild card. She has volunteered to speak to young US players about anti-doping programme. pic.twitter.com/YgsC0ZUrE5
— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) August 15, 2017
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) August 15, 2017
The awarding of the wild card to the Russian Sharapova is exceptional. Tennis.Life looked back in the draws going back to 2007. And the only non-American or non-reciprocal wild card on the men’s side was … Juan Martin del Potro last year. On the women’s side, the only exception was in 2009, when Kim Clijsters received one.
Both, as with Sharapova, are former champions.
Here are the wild cards.
-Former champion Maria Sharapova
-Newly-crowned girls’ national 18s champion Ashley Kratzer
-NCAA champion Brienne Minor
-Wild-card challenge winner Sofia Kenin
-Amandine Hesse (French Federation reciprocal)
-Tennis Australia reciprocal (to be announced)
Men’s singles wild cards
-NCAA champion Thai-Son Kwiatkoswki
-Newly-crowned boys’ national 18s champion Patrick Kypson
-Wild-card challenge winner Tommy Paul
-Geoffrey Blancaneaux (French Federation reciprocal)
-Alex de Minaur (Tennis Australia reciprocal)
Women’s qualifying wild cards
-Francesca Di Lorenzo
-Ann Li (junior Wimbledon runner-up)
-Claire Liu (junior Wimbledon champion)
-Whitney Osuigwe (junior French Open champion)
Men’s qualifying wild cards
A note of interest is that the average age of the men’s qualifying wild-card recipients is nearly 24; many are former college players. There’s a big group of current Americans either still teenagers or just out of it whose rankings are high enough to get into the main draw or qualifying on their own. But perhaps not so many in the high junior age range – or at least no one good enough that the USTA decided they merited wild cards.
In stark contrast, the average of the women’s qualifying wild-card recipients is just a shade over 18.