Maria gets WTA Toronto wild­card

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MON­TREAL: For­mer World No 1 Maria Shara­pova, mak­ing a come­back af­ter a 15-month dop­ing ban, has been awarded a wild­card en­try into the Toronto WTA tour­na­ment, Tennis Canada an­nounced on Tues­day.

The 30-year-old Rus­sian star, a five-time Grand Slam cham­pion, was re­fused a wild­card spot by French Open or­gan­is­ers but Maria has said she will play in Wim­ble­don qual­i­fy­ing, need­ing three wins to reach the main draw.

Maria will make her first ap­pear­ance in Canada since 2014 at the Rogers Cup, to be played Aug 7-13, as a hard­court tune0up for the year’s fi­nal Grand Slam event, the US Open, which be­gins on Aug 28.

“I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to com­ing back to Canada,” Maria said. “I have some great mem­o­ries of play­ing Toronto in the past and the tour­na­ment and the fans have al­ways been so sup­port­ive. This is one of the big­gest events of the year and I hope to play my best tennis that week.”

Maria was is­sued a two-year sus­pen­sion af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for the banned heart drug mel­do­nium at the 2016 Aus­tralian Open, but the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport re­duced the ban on appeal.

Maria, ranked 173rd in the world, made her tour re­turn last month at Stuttgart, reach­ing the semi-fi­nals.

Her best show­ing in Canada came in 2009 when she reached the Toronto fi­nal. AFP

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