After a 15-month doping ban, Maria Sharapova is back playing professional tennis and she is quite happy about it, despite what anyone else thinks. There has been plenty of controversy ever since she tested positive for taking the drug meldonium, which was added to the new official banned list in January of last year. Most of her fellow athletes have spoken out on her return, and the latest one to do so is Genie Bouchard. In fact, it looks like she has now banned Sharapova from her childhood idol list completely.
After receiving her punishment and waiting out her 15-month suspension, Maria Sharapova has returned to competitive tennis at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart. She was able to receive a wild card entry, which makes this her first tournament since the ban was lifted. This does not please Bouchard at all. If the 23-year-old Canadian had her way, Maria would not be playing professional tennis at all. Bouchard had an interview with TRT World on Tuesday and she slammed her former idol, calling her a cheater and saying that she should not be allowed to play tennis ever again.
“She is a cheater and I don’t think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport again. It’s so unfair to the other players who do it the right way and are true.”
She went on to say that the WTA was wrong to bring her back to professional tennis. According to Bouchard, it sends the wrong message to young kids who look up to sports figures such as Maria Sharapova. The message that she said it sends is that if you cheat, you will be welcomed back with open arms.
Genie Bouchard is certainly not the only tennis player who has shared their opinions on the Sharapova return. However, most were not as harsh as Genie was. Some players have said that it is wrong for Sharapova to be given a wild car instead of having to work her way up to that point. Caroline Wozniacki thinks that it is disrespectful to other players, while Roberta Vinci said that a wild card into Stuttgart was not right.
Vinci may be feeling even stronger about her previous statement regarding the wild card entry for Sharapova, considering that the Russian beat her in Wednesday’s tennis match. According to ESPN, the two women faced each other in Maria’s first match since the ban was lifted. Her 7-5, 6-3 victory over the Italian may have stung Vinci just a little bit more.
Sharapova, who just turned 30 this month, couldn’t contain her excitement after winning the match. There was plenty of fist pumping and smiles as she continued to slam her way to victory over Roberta Vinci. She expressed exactly how she felt in her after-match interview.
“It was the best feeling in the world. I have been waiting for this a long time.”
One thing is for sure, Maria Sharapova has caused quite a stir in the world of tennis this past year. Genie Bouchard had some strong words about her, calling her a cheater and wanting a lifetime ban for the person who she idolized growing up. The Canadian no longer looks up to her, saying that the failed drug test ruined it all for her.
Right after the suspension took place last year, Genie expressed in another interview how shocked and disappointed she was. She even questioned whether her idolizing of Maria when she was a kid was all just a lie.
Do you think Genie Bouchard’s statements about Maria Sharapova being a cheater and being banned from the sport is too extreme?
[Featured Image by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images]