Caroline Wozniacki is Willing, but not ITF Able

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Caroline Wozniacki is willing, but not ITF able to compete at the Rio Summer Olympics in a ruling handed down this week. The 25-year -ld Danish superstar returned this week from an ankle injury to begin Wimbledon and Olympic preps in Nottingham. The former World #1 lost in the 2nd round to Anett Kontaveit of Estonia. This same ankle injury is what prevented her from playing the Fed Cup tie against Bosnia and Herzegovina. This absence of a Fed Cup tie left her with only 1 ITF appearance in Fed Cup during this Olympic Qualifying period, thus eliminating her from eligibility for the Rio Olympics in August. ITF rules state that a player must play 2 Fed Cup ties to be Olympic eligible. This ineligibility was particularly stinging since she was selected the flag-bearer of her home Denmark back in February. 

Caroline Wozniacki is Willing, but not ITF Able

The tennis star has transcended mere tennis celebrity status due to her strong social media presence and her selection of famous beaus (a former fiance to Rory McIlroy and possible girlfriend to NFL star J.J. Watt). She has often been criticized for her lack of “focus” on tennis as she has been involved in many charitable and commendable personal goals and functions. She ran the New York Marathon back in 2014. Her time of 3:26:33 was lauded by running experts as impressive and a testament to her athletic ability. Her tennis ranking and results suffered after that appearance with some nagging injuries flaring up. Many pundits believed that although a good sport, Wozniacki’s marathon endeavor cost her momentum that she was building as she was climbing back into the top 10.

Social media blew up this week both imploring the ITF to allow the popular Dane to play in the Olympics, and criticizing Wozniacki for waiting so long to accomplish the requisite Fed Cup ties to be Olympic eligible. Denmark is not a Fed Cup powerhouse, to say the least, and Wozniacki often finds herself playing Fed Cup opponents that are often ranked 200-400 spots below her in WTA tour rankings. Without much challenge or chance to move up the complicated Fed Cup zonal group ladder, Wozniacki missed several chances to attain eligible status.

Wozniacki has appealed the ITF ruling and with the support of the Denmark Tennis Federation will argue that even though she didn’t play the tie against Bosnia and Herzegovina, she had made herself available and was planning on playing. Wozniacki missed 10 weeks after rolling her ankle the week before her Fed Cup tie. Based upon interpretation of ITF rulebook wording, this may be enough to garner a different decision from the eligibility hearing. The hearing is scheduled for June, 30th, during Wimbledon.

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