It’s not who you are underneath but what you do that defines you.
Five-time Grand Slam champion, Maria Sharapova returns to the WTA Tour on April 26th the day her suspension ends. Her return will be at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany. Not only was she given a wild card for this tournament, but it was also given for tournaments in Madrid and Rome. She will be unranked in tournament play.
Sharapova served a 15-month ban for failing a doping test that was initially supposed to be two years. She tested positive for meldonium and claimed she had no knowledge of the banned substance when she took it during the 2016 Australian Open. Her last match played was in the quarterfinals of the Aussie Open losing to Serena Williams in straight sets.
The former No. 1 the world is not skeptical upon her return and expects mixed emotions. Sharapova talked to Vogue and mentioned there will be suspicions when she returns.
“I think if I was trying to hide something, I don’t think I would come out to the world and say I was taking a drug for 10 years,” she said. “That [wouldn’t be] a very smart thing to do. But the answer to your question is ‘absolutely.’”
Allowing Sharapova to compete so soon brought negative emotions from other players. Players such as Britain’s Heather Watson, Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki and even Barbora Strycova from the Czech Republic voiced their opinions. Strycova served a six-month ban back in 2013 for taking the stimulant sibutramine through a slimming aid. She felt the red carpet was not rolled out for her upon her return.
“I think it’s not okay. I think when you do something like this you have to be punished. But she is Maria and what can you do? I will not get pissed off about it. I’m a bit shocked actually with what is happening at the tournament in Stuttgart but I can’t change it so I won’t think about it,” Strycova said.
“Of course it would have been nice to have wild cards when I came back but I’m not Sharapova. Nothing changed for her. She can play the same tournaments as me…What I don’t like is that she can play Wednesday, whereas we are coming from the Fed Cup and we have to play on Tuesday. It’s nothing against her, but for me, it is against the rules.”
Strycova even went on to mention she is not Sharapova’s friend and that no one may even be her friend on the WTA Tour. It can be none other than Sharapova’s fault as stated a few years ago that she, personally, is not friendly or close to many players.
This is where personality and character begin to differ. Sharapova’s personality may be the reason many players may not be fond of her. But her defamation of character is strictly herself to blame due to her ban.
Her return in the later part of April and the reactions of others can and will dictate her play in future tournaments including the Porsche Grand Prix. What she does henceforth will truly define her, but let’s hope it doesn’t affect her underneath.