Tennis: Sharapova to make return in Stuttgart

Tennis star Maria Sharapova looks on as Porsche introduces the new 2017 Porsche Panamera executive hybrid at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov 16, 2016.
Tennis star Maria Sharapova looks on as Porsche introduces the new 2017 Porsche Panamera executive hybrid at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov 16, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN • Maria Sharapova announced yesterday that she will make her return to competitive tennis following her 15-month ban at the WTA clay-court tournament in Stuttgart in April.

The 29-year-old five-time Grand Slam winner tested positive for meldonium at last year's Australian Open.

Her subsequent two-year ban, by the International Tennis Federation, was reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and she will play her first match on April 26 - the day her ban expires.

Stuttgart has been a happy hunting ground for Sharapova, who has lost just once - to current women's world No. 1 Angelique Kerber in 2015 - at the tournament and won the title in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

"I could not be happier to have my first match back on tour at one of my favourite tournaments," said Sharapova in a press release.

"I can't wait to see all my great fans and to be back doing what I love."

The Russian has been given a wildcard to appear in the Stuttgart event, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

"I'm really happy for Maria that she's back after a long break. Particularly pleasing for me is that it's going to be our audience that gets to watch her comeback live," said tournament director Markus Guenthardt.

Kerber will be defending her title in Stuttgart, with eight of the world's top 10 scheduled to play in this year's tournament.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2017, with the headline 'Sharapova to make return in Stuttgart'. Print Edition | Subscribe