Johannesburg [South Africa] : Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova‘s dreams of bringing her career back on track following her 15-month doping suspension received a major boost, as she has received another wild card entry into the Cincinnati WTA tournament.
The Cincinnati event, which is a key warm-up for the final major of the season–US Open, also granted a wildcard to Belarusian star Victoria Azarenka who recently made a comeback to the tennis court following maternity leave.
Reflecting on the same, tournament director Andre Silva said that Sharapova and Azarenka have been granted wildcard in a bid to add to their already strong player field.
“The addition of these players add to our already strong player field. We anticipate the WTA’s No 1 ranking to be on the line during the tournament and adding players of this calibre will make the battle for the top spot even more compelling,”Sport24 quoted Silva as saying.
30-year-old Sharapova emerged as a winner in Cincinnati in 2011 while Azarenka clinched the title just two years later.
The Cincinnati Masters is slated to begin from August 12 and runs until August 20.
Sharapova’s comeback has already been disrupted by a hip muscle injury, but she looks adamant to tackle the US hardcourt season well.
The Russian, who made a return without a ranking in April and has since then risen to 173 in the world after receiving wildcards in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome, had earlier also received a wildcard entry for Stanford tournament and she prepares to compete in the tournament for the first time six years.
In April at the Stuttgart Open, Sharapova played her first match since her quarter-final defeat to former world number one Serena Williams at the 2016 Australian Open, where she was tested positive for banned substance Meldonium.
Her earlier two-year ban was reduced to 15 months following an appeal to the court of arbitration for sport, which concluded she had not intended to cheat.