Sharapova to make pro comeback in April

Maria Sharapova will return to the competition after a 15-month suspension at a tournament in Germany in April.

The former world No 1, who has sponsorship ties with Porsche, will complete her 15-month suspension on Wednesday, April 26, and tournament organisers have made a decision to give her a route back on to the WTA Tour with a wild card.

While Sharapova will miss this month's Australian Open, she'll be back in time for the second Grand Slam tournament of 2017, the French Open in May.

Sharapova has won the event three times and had been sponsored by Porsche until the German luxury auto maker put the agreement on hold during her ban.

However, Sharpaova, who has sponsorship links with Porsche, has been told she can wait until April 26 to play her opening match. She already played two exhibition matches.

The Russian will have to rely on invitations to tournaments, including Grand Slam tournaments, for a while because his suspension has excluded him from the world ranking, which only takes into account the performances of the previous 12 months.

He went on to say Sharapova's return "in 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".

"I'm really happy for Maria that she's back after a long break", he said.

WTA chief executive and chairman Steve Simon confirmed Sharapova was eligible to play despite the tournament starting prior to her ban ceasing.

Sharapova won titles at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in 2012, 2013 and 2014. She claimed to have used meldonium for years for medical reasons and was unaware that it was banned from 2016.

  • Angelo Rivera