Maria Sharapova was criticized a lot lately since she withdrew from the Fed Cup on two occasions in 2007; actually the 20-year-old is yet to make a Fed Cup appearance for her native country.
Both times the highest-ranked Russian player pulled out because of injuries, but after the second withdrawal, which was at the last minute, Russian tennis officials accused her of putting her own interests ahead of her country.
"I'm telling you, just forget about all these promises," said Russia's chief tennis coach Vladimir Kamelzon. "Her closest advisers are Americans and they would never allow her to play for Russia," he added.
"Well, she never intended to play in the first place," said former national champion Anna Dmitrieva, who now works as a senior commentator for NTV television. "All she wanted was to be included in the Fed Cup team so she would be eligible to play at the 2008 Beijing Olympics."
The culmination was the statement of the Russian Fed Cup team captain Shamil Tarpishchev: "I feel it would be incorrect to invite Sharapova to play against Italy as we reached the final without her." (quotes via Yahoo!Sports)
- Maria Sharapova's version of the story
World No. 2 said on her website that Tarpishchev was misquoted, and here’s how she explained the whole situation:
“It is important to me that people realize some reports about my status with the Russian Fed Cup team during the past two weeks are false. Here are the facts.
I have been in contact with Shamil Tarpischev through my father who is currently in Moscow, and he has assured us that he was misquoted by some of the Russian media. He never said that I was not invited to the Fed Cup Final. He repeated that I am always invited to play for Russia.
I have told Shamil and the Russian Federation that I will make myself available to play in the finals if they need me. My injury created a problem, and I understand and respect that many of my Russian teammates who competed in the first two rounds should get the first chance to play in the finals. I told Shamil that I will respect his decision on the players he chooses in the finals. I congratulate the players on the recent victory, and, whether I am chosen to play or not, I will be cheering for Russia.”
I’m not sure, but I kind of believe Sharapova. Why risk making your injury even worse? I think that she would have played if she was 100% healthy. Maria was not ready to sacrifice herself for her country, but that’s not the reason for us to hate her.
Anyway, what we should do is celebrate all the players who have sacrificed themselves, they deserve attention! For example, Jelena Jankovic almost collapsed (she was vividly feeling sick, it was hard to watch her virtually suffer) in the Fed Cup match against Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova, but the Serbian didn’t give up and eventually scored a 7-5 1-6 9-7 victory.