Maria Sharapova returns to action today

The Russian has completed her doping ban

BY Daniel Kelly 07:51 Wednesday 26 April 2017, 7:51 26 Apr 2017

Picture by: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images

Maria Sharapova's ban is over.

The multiple Grand Slam champion returns to action on Wednesday afternoon, after completing her 15-month ban. She competes in Stuttgart in an indoor tournament, as a wildcard.

Despite the tournament beginning last weekend, Sharapova's opening match against Roberta Vinci has been scheduled to play on her first day of eligibility.

The Russian is one of the key attractions in Stuttgart on her return to the sport. Her match against Vinci opens the Evening Session on Centre Court, where the eyes of the tennis world will be on what is a controversial comeback.

Players like Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska have said the 30-year-old should not be in a position to return from her doping ban in such a prominent tournament. 

"This kind of entry into the tournament should be available only for players who were dropped in the ranking due to injury, illness or other random accident", Radwanksa said. "Not for those suspended for doping", she said.

"Maria should rebuild her career in a different way, beginning with smaller events."

Sharapova's ban for Meldonium usage was reduced from two years to 15 months on appeal, hence her early return to the game. She remains one of the most marketable sports stars in the world.

As tennis prepares for it's immediate future without a pregnant Serena Williams, many tournament organisers will hope the Russian can return to the form that has seen her win five Grand Slams.

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