Maria Sharapova’s first opponent following her 15-month doping ban has questioned the decision to give the Russian wildcards on the WTA Tour.
Sharapova plays Italy’s Roberta Vinci in the first round of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old’s wildcard entry has already been called “disrespectful” by ex-world number one Caroline Wozniacki.
“I don’t agree about the wildcard here and about the wildcard in Rome and the other tournaments,” said Vinci, 34.
Sharapova was given a two-year ban last year, backdated to 26 January 2016, after testing positive for heart disease drug meldonium at the Australian Open.
Her suspension was reduced to 15 months in October, following her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Sharapova will also receive wildcards for upcoming tournaments in Madrid and Rome.
World number 36 Vinci added: “She made her mistakes for sure, but she paid and I think she can return to play – but without any wildcards.”
Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, who could meet Sharapova in the second round in Stuttgart, has also been among those to question the treatment of the former world number one, saying she should not be invited to Grand Slams.
Those views were met with a scathing response by Sharapova’s agent Max Eisenbud, who labelled Radwanska, 28, and 26-year-old Wozniacki of Denmark “journeyman” rivals who wanted to prevent the Russian playing at next month’s French Open because it is their “last chance to win a Slam”.
Sharapova, twice a winner at the French Open, is unranked and will require a wildcard to compete at Roland Garros when the tournament starts next month, with France’s tennis federation yet to announce its decision.
Jul 31, 2016 0