INDIAN WELLS (AFP) – Maria Sharapova’s planned return from a 15-month drugs ban at Stuttgart next month is “disrespectful” to other WTA players, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki said Saturday.
The tournament will already be underway when five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova’s suspension ends on April 26, and she’ll play her first match that day.
“I think it’s very questionable, allowing – no matter who it is – a player that is still banned to play a tournament that week,” Wozniacki said. “I think it’s disrespectful to the other players and the WTA.”
Wozniacki said she had no problem with Sharapova, whose ban for a positive test for meldonium was reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, returning to the game.
But she said the Russian star, whose world ranking has been wiped out by her absence, should play her way back into tournaments.
“I think everyone deserves a second chance, and I think that she’s going to come back and she’s going to fight her way back,” Wozniacki said.
“I’m sure she’s going to play well. But at the same time, I feel like when a player is banned for drugs, I think that someone should start from the bottom and fight their way back, because it’s different from an injury where someone is out because they had hurt themselves.
“When someone has been banned for drugs and something that is performance enhancing, I think that you deserve a second chance like everybody else, people make mistakes. But I think you should fight your way back from the bottom.”
Wozaniacki spoke after securing her third-round berth at the Indian Wells hard court tournament with a brisk 6-3, 6-0 victory over Poland’s Magda Linette.