Maria Sharapova set to return to professional tennis in April

Maria Sharapova set to return to professional tennis in April

Five-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one Maria Sharapova is set to return to professional tennis at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart on April 26th.

tevon-king
Tevon King

Three-time Porsche Tennis Grand Prix champion Maria Sharapova will return to the indoor clay court event on April 26th, although the tournament begins on April 22nd, however, she is eligible to play competitive tennis from April 26th as her 15-month doping ban from professional tennis for testing positive for Meldonium ends.

The five-time Grand Slam champion last played a competitive tennis match at last year's Australian Open losing in straight sets to six-time champion Serena Williams at the quarterfinals stage, a repeat of their 2007 and 2015 final encounters.

Sharapova received a wildcard from the indoor clay court tournament, and she is pleased to return to competitive tennis at a tournament that she has had some success.

"I could not be happier to have my first match back on tour at one of my favourite tournaments, I can't wait to see all my great fans and to be back doing what I love."

The 29-year-old has won the title in three consecutive years in 2012, 2013 and 2014 defeating fellow Grand Slam champions Victoria Azarenka, Li Na and Ana Ivanovic respectively. The tournament has proved to be a stepping stone for the Russian as every time she has prevailed in Stuttgart, she has reached the final at the French Open, winning the title at Roland Garros in 2012 and 2014 defeating Sara Errani to complete her Career Grand Slam, and Simona Halep two years later but she lost in 2013 to Serena Williams.

Sharapova posing with her last Grand Slam singles title at the French Open in 2014 (Photo by Matthew Stockman / Getty Images)
Sharapova posing with her last Grand Slam singles title at the French Open in 2014 (Photo by Matthew Stockman / Getty Images)

The tournament director, Markus Gundthardt is pleased to have Sharapova making her return to tennis in Stuttgart and has described her return as a "fabulous present". "I'm really happy for Maria that she's back after a long break. Particularly pleasing for me is that's going to be our audience that gets to watch her comeback live.

"Her return to the Porsche Arena is a fabulous present for our fantastic spectators and is certain to be one of the sporting and emotional highlights of our anniversary tournament."

This edition of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix will be the 40th anniversary of the tournament, headlined by two-time defending champion, two-time Grand Slam champion, and world number one Angelique Kerber which gets underway from April 22nd to April 30th.

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