Maria Sharapova will make her long-awaited return to tennis in Stuttgart.
Maria Sharapova will make her long-awaited return to tennis in Stuttgart. Reiri Kurihara

Maria Sharapova return 'shameful' after doping ban

TENNIS: There is sure to be some awkwardness in the women's locker room at the Stuttgart Open this week when Maria Sharapova makes a controversial return to tennis.

Some of the world's top female players have voiced their opposition to the five-time grand slam winner being allowed to contest the Porsche Grant Prix event as a wild card.

The Russian's 15-month suspension for the use of banned drug meldonium ends today, with her scheduled to play Roberta Vinci in a first-round of the tournament she won three times (2012-14) early tomorrow morning.

Both Simona Halep and Alize Cornet, who are contesting the event, have criticised tournament organisers for offering Sharapova a direct entry into the main draw.

World No.5 Halep said it set a bad example to "young players".

"It is not about Maria Sharapova here, but it is about all the players that are found (to have) doped," wHalep said. "I cannot support what the tournament director did, but also I cannot judge."

Cornet, however, was more scathing, telling French media outlet L'Equipe: "Generally speaking, I find it shameful that the WTA is promoting a player who tested positive after all.

"It's normal that people talk about her, she's an immense champion, but ... to (be) promoting her return to such an extent ... I find that unjust."

World No.2 Angelique Kerber said it was within the rules to allow Sharapova to play, but "I think a situation like this has highlighted a lot of things that need clarity. I'm sure it's something that will be looked at in time."

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