Russian star Maria Sharapova played her first match since the US Open today against Jennifer Brady. It was a first-round encounter against Jennifer Brady. Although she managed to startle the crowds with some flashy winners, Sharapova lost the over two-hour affair 6-3 1-6 6-7.
Although currently ranked no. 147 in the WTA Rankings, Sharapova seems to believe that she won’t need to play the qualifying for the Australian Open. When asked about the possibility of getting a wildcard, she replied “I think so, yeah” and told the interviewer to ask Craig Tiley, the CEO of Tennis Australia, about her situation.
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 7, 2020
Former world no.1 and the holder of five Grand Slam titles (at least one in each Major), Sharapova has been on the downfall since receiving a doping ban back in January 2016. Her multiple comeback attempts have been constantly halted by recurring injuries. In the 2019 season, Sharapova was only able to participate in seven events.
Should Maria Sharapova get one?
With the reason of her 2016 suspension being a doping ban, giving her wild cards always generates a fair bit of tension. But the 32-year-old Russian has already paid her dues and should no longer be punished for her meldonium usage. Especially as the “drug” was only forbidden in January 2016 and after taking it all her life, it seems like she just failed to acknowledge the new rules. Although it obviously doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t be punished for that, in my view, it’s enough to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Whatever your opinion on the Russian’s doping ban is, she still brings a great share of attention to the women’s game. Even playing as little as she is nowadays, Sharapova is still one of the most recognizable sportswomen in the world to the general public. Having her in the tournament is a brilliant thing for the organizers from the economical standpoint.
Although she might not be one hundred percent ready to get back to the top echelon of women’s tennis yet, her game is still there somewhere. And who knows maybe her next event will be the one where she rediscovers the magic?
Main Photo from Getty.