Maria Sharapova: Star ‘couldn’t be happier’ as she confirms date of return

(CNN)Maria Sharapova is set to make her official return from a doping suspension on April 26 after the former world No. 1 was granted a wildcard entry to Stuttgart’s Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

The tournament starts on April 24, with the 29-year-old Sharapova, who hasn’t been involved a competitive match since the Australian Open in January 2016, due to play on the day her 15-month ban comes to an end.
    The Russian has been keeping fit ahead of her comeback, appearing in a Las Vegas charity event in October 2016, and then playing an exhibition match against Olympic singles champion Monica Puig in Puerto Rico last month.
    “I could not be happier to have my first match back on tour at one of my favorite tournaments,” said Sharapova, a three-time winner at the annual clay court event.
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    A welcome return?

    The head of the WTA, Steve Simon, has already said he is looking forward to Sharapova’s return — a sentiment echoed by Porsche Tennis Tournament Director Markus Gnthardt — but not everyone on the tour has been so welcoming.


    Gnthardt described Sharapova’s return at Stuttgart as “certain to be one of the sporting and emotional highlights of our anniversary tournament.”

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