BERLIN: Five-times Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova will return to competitive action following a 15-month doping ban at the Stuttgart Grand Prix in April, the Russian said on Tuesday. The Florida-based Sharapova was originally banned for two years after testing positive for meldonium at last year’s Australian Open. The former world number one, one of the highest paid athletes in the world in the past decade, admitted she had used meldonium for years and was not aware it had been banned since the start of 2016. Her suspension was later cut to 15 months on appeal.
“I could not be happier to have my first match back on tour at one of my favourite tournaments,” Russian Sharapova, who won the indoor clay event three years running from 2012, said on the tournament website. “I can’t wait to see all my great fans and to be back doing what I love.” She will return to action in time to contest the season’s second Grand Slam at Roland Garros. The French Open begins on May 22. — Reuters