Former Porsche Tennis Grand Prix champions Maria Sharapova and Laura Siegemund have been granted two of the first wildcards of the first big European clay event of the year. This is the second consecutive year that both Sharapova and Siegemund have been given wildcards.
Silverware Headlining Wildcards
Both of these ladies are former champions in Stuttgart as previously mentioned. The Russian and the German have combined for four of the last six titles and have been involved in five of the last six finals. Siegemund has been a finalist in back-to-back years. In 2016, she was routed by countrywoman Angelique Kerber in an all-German final but went one better last year after defeating Kristina Mladenovic for the biggest title of her career in three sets.
Sharapova is a popular figure in Stuttgart, having made her return from her failed drug test suspension in Germany. She made the semifinals last year in her return, losing to Mladenovic in a three-set thriller.
Before last year however, the "Queen of Clay" won three consecutive titles from 2012-2014. Her run included finals wins over top players such as Victoria Azarenka, Li Na, and Ana Ivanovic. Her bid for a fourth consecutive title ended at the hands of Angelique Kerber in 2015. Her prowess on clay began in 2012. After winning Stuttgart, she went on to win the Italian Open and then completed the Career Grand Slam by capturing her first French Open title.
Currently, Sharapova is ranked 41st in the world which is more than high enough to get directly into the main draw regardless of the wildcard. Siegemund, on the other hand, is ranked 72nd in the world which might only be good enough for qualifying if she was not given the wildcard due to the popularity of this tournament amongst top players.