London, May 6 : A fuming Maria Sharapova is seriously considering the option of legal action against the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) for being forced into doing a promotional photshoot on the eve of the Italian Open in Rome.
The Australian Open champion and the world's most photographed sportswoman is being threatened with a 325,000 pound fine by the WTA if she fails to turn up for the promotional photoshoot here later in the week to advertise the end-of-year championships in Doha and also to spread the word about tennis in Asia as the sport tries to open up new markets there.
Sharapova believes that she was just given a fortnight's warning about the photo call that could take up to five hours of her time and that of Serena Williams, Justine Henin, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic on the eve of the Italian Open.
"The Tour does not care what any of the players think, not just top players. The Tour will say we have done all these amazing things that the players wanted, but these are things they wanted as well and have financially benefited from, including this shoot," the Daily Express quoted Sharapova, as saying.
"I took this action because this is one in a long list of things where the Tour has ignored the players. This is not about just one shoot. I just could not just sit back any more. To ask me or any of the other players to do a long shoot like this is not right. Do you think the NBA would ask their top players to do a five-hour shoot the day before a play-off game?"
A WTA spokesman said: "We will be as flexible as possible to accommodate all the player schedules, but we are not making exceptions."
The latest fine comes on the back of the 58,000 pound penalty Sharapova incurred for pulling out of this week's German Open in Berlin.
She argues that she had already fulfilled her playing commitments by taking a wild card into the Charleston event two weeks ago and so was not required to show up.