STUTTGART (Germany) - Italian tennis player Roberta Vinci, who will be the first player to stand across the net from Maria Sharapova in 15 months come Wednesday (April 25), has weighed in on the wild-card debate surrounding the Russian.
Vinci will play Sharapova in the first round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and the Italian does not think the banned player should be given a way into tournaments through wild cards. Sharapova is serving out the final days of a 15-month doping ban.
"My personal opinion is (I do) not agree about wild cards... about Rome, about other tournaments," said the world No. 36 in a press conference at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart.
The annual indoor clay tournament is also where the ticket sales for this year's BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore will be launched.
Sharapova has also been given invitations to play in Madrid and Rome, and all eyes are on the French Open organisers to see if they will also hand the 30-year-old Sharapova a wild card into the Grand Slam.
Vinci, 34, said: "She is a great player - I don't have nothing against her. She made her mistakes for sure. She can return to play, but without wild cards. I know (Sharapova) is important for the WTA, for tennis, for everything. She is a great person, a great champion. My personal opinion is this."
Vinci joins several other high-profile players on the WTA to publicly disagree with the Russian getting wild cards into tournaments.
Caroline Wozniacki, as well as Agnieszka Radwanska have both spoken out against giving the Russian a way into events.
Sharapova was banned following a positive test for the drug meldonium at last year's Australian Open. The ban was originally for two years but was reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).