Tennis

Sharapova's Grand Slam return divides opinion

Rivals remain divided over Maria Sharapova as the former world No. 1 prepares to return to Grand Slam tennis at the US Open after a 15-month doping ban.

The 30-year-old Russian received a wildcard for the year's final Grand Slam event that starts today on the New York hardcourts, with the night feature match pitting Sharapova against Romania's second-ranked Simona Halep.

"I don't think any tennis fan in the world is not going to have that match on. Let's be honest," said American 15th seed Madison Keys.

Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova was banned after testing positive for the drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open. She was not offered a wildcard for the French Open and many players were unhappy she had wildcards for events starting in April.

Sharapova has played only one tune-up match due to a forearm injury which followed a thigh injury that kept her out of Wimbledon. But the US Open offered a wildcard, saying she had served her ban.

"When someone has been banned or out of competition, I think you have to work for it a little bit to go and play your tournaments and not (get) help that much sometimes," Spanish third seed Garbine Muguruza said.

World No. 1 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic says Sharapova's return is a positive move. "It's a good story for the tournament that she's back," she said. - AFP

Maria Sharapovasimona halepUS OPEN