Maria Sharapova is "starting at ground zero" — WTA chief

Maria contended that she did not read the email that notified her of meldonium's new status as a banned substance. It's been more than a decade since Sharapova last beat Williams. The head-to-head sees Sharapova leading by 2-0, and losing just a mere four games in both of the matches combined.

"Kryptonite", observed Tennis Channel analyst Paul Annacone.

"Maria is a star", Simon said. "I don't understand", she started with a mischievous smile. "But it leaves the door in women's tennis wide open".

The Russian is one of the key attractions in Stuttgart on her return to the sport. "The reality is, in sports, indifference is the enemy". "Unfortunately tennis remains a business. but, morally, it's not good".

"They are smart to try to keep Maria out of Paris".

When the former world number one and five-time Grand Slam title victor walks onto centre court at 1630 GMT to face Italian veteran Roberta Vinci she will be a polarising figure.

The broad consensus is more of the same. "I find that unjust". If she advances, Sharapova could face an intriguing second-round match against Radwanska, who spoke out firmly against the Russian's wild card last week.

Will the 30-year-old still have the same hunger to succeed that has underscored her feats to this point, such as achieving the career Grand Slam? Roger Federer, at 35, is the men's champion. "We saw it with Roger, what happens when you're fresh physically and mentally". "There is no reason why we should make an exception for Maria Sharapova, there is no reason why we should announce a wild card before the others".

Indeed, rules mean that she is not even allowed into the venue where the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is being held, and she is not on its promotional posters. Sharapova had been taking meldonium for many years, but overlooked an announcement by WADA that it added the drug to its banned list as per January 1, 2016.

Two other multiple Grand Slam champions, Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka, will soon follow Sharapova with their anticipated returns. "So it hasn't been the best time for me over the last month and a half".

Radwanska, the sixth-seed in Stuttgart, expects a "fierce" return from the Russian, but says Sharapova should have had to qualify on merit rather than being given a free pass on a wild card.

Certainly, based on her recent comments, Sharapova will come in with a large chip on her shoulder.

Radwanska faced a whopping 15 break points, impressively saving 10 of them, as Makarova took advantage to set up a potential meeting with her high-profile compatriot. Many players believe that athletes suspended for doping should not receive such discretionary invitations.

"I know it's tough to return after a long time", Vinci said. "She paid for her mistakes", Vinci said Monday. I am preparing all in the same way as [for] other tournaments.

It's a big boost for the Kiwi who will play just one WTA tournament in the lead up to Roland Garros next month on clay in Nurnberg.

  • Julie Sanders