Maria Sharapova set for comeback after drugs ban
Russian is currently serving a 15-month ban after testing positive for cardiac drug meldonium
Maria Sharapova will make her professional tennis comeback following her doping ban at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart in April. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Maria Sharapova will make her professional tennis comeback following her doping ban at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart in April.
The former world number one is serving a 15-month ban after testing positive for cardiac drug meldonium last January and is eligible to compete again on April 26th.
The Stuttgart tournament is an obvious comeback event given Porsche is one of her main sponsors, but it had been thought she would not be able to play because it starts two days before her suspension runs out.
Sharapova will not be allowed to attend the tournament until the Wednesday, the day of her first match.
She said on porsche.com: “I could not be happier to have my first match back on tour at one of my favourite tournaments. I can’t wait to see all my great fans and to be back doing what I love.”
Sharapova will return to tennis without a ranking and needs a wild card to enter the tournament.
Whether to invite one of the game’s biggest stars will be a big decision for many events in the initial months of her comeback.
The two-time French Open champion would need a wild card to play in Paris, and the situation will almost certainly be the same come Wimbledon.
Stuttgart is one of Sharapova’s most successful events, with the 29-year-old having won the title for three years in a row from 2012 to 2014.
She last played a professional tournament at the Australian Open almost 12 months ago, where she failed the doping test.
Sharapova was a long-time user of meldonium and was unaware it had been added to the banned list at the start of 2016.
The five-time grand slam champion was initially banned for two years by the International Tennis Federation but that was reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in October.
Sharapova has already taken part in two exhibition events since the CAS verdict was announced — playing at the World Team Tennis Smash Hits in Las Vegas and then taking on Olympic champion Monica Puig in Puerto Rico.