Maria Sharapova made her official comeback to tennis after a 15-month doping ban on Wednesday in the ongoing Stuttgart Open. There were cheers for the Russian in the court, along with some flags of her country, showing support towards the former world number one.
Though she might have emerged victorious in her comeback against Roberta Vinci, some players have expressed their displeasure in seeing her back in the circuit. In this case of Stuttgart Open, she has been given a wildcard. Her peers are not pleased with WTA as well.
In particular, one WTA player Eugenie Bouchard was not pleased to see her on the court. The Canadian threw some verbal volleys, and even labelled Sharapova as a 'cheater', and even went onto the extent of saying that the Russian should handed a life-ban.
Sharapova was banned last year when it was learned that she had taken meldonium, the substance, which was added to the banned list in 2016. Sharapova revealed that she was taking the substance for 10 years due to medical reasons, adding she did not know it was added last year.
Bouchard feels welcoming Sharapova into the WTA sends a wrong message to kids, who are looking up to players as idols.
"I don't think that's right. She's a cheater and so to me, I don't think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport again," Bouchard told TRT World.
"It's so unfair to all the other players who do it the right way and are true. So I just think the WTA sends the wrong message to young kids: you know, cheat and we'll welcome you back with open arms. So, I don't think that's right. She's not someone I can say I look up to anymore because it's definitely ruined it for me a little bit."
Bouchard might have been critical on Sharapova's comeback, but it might not stop the Russian from playing tennis at the highest level once again. One has to remember that she is not known too much for making 'close friends.' The Russian is featuring as a wild-card in Stuttgart, and is also set to play in Madrid and Rome soon.
However, Sharapova might have to battle it out in the qualifying rounds of the French Open to make it to the main draw of the year's second grand slam.