Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova is all set to lift the racket once again after her doping suspension. The tennis superstar will make her comeback on April 26 at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, the tournament organisers announced today.
"Fans of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix can look forward to Maria Sharapova making her eagerly-awaited return to professional tennis at the long standing tournament in Stuttgart," the tournament's press service said.
"The 29-year old former world No.1 and five-time Grand Slam winner will play her first match in the Porsche Arena on April 26, the day she can start competing again at tournaments."
Sharapova, who is currently under suspension for anti-doping rules violations, was allowed last year by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to play in exhibition matches before her ban expires. She has already played two exhibition matches, reports Tass.
The tennis star returns without ranking. Hence she will need a wild card to enter the tournament in Stuttgart, which can be considered as Sharapova's most favourite one since she won it three times in a row between 2012 and 2014.
"I could not be happier to have my first match back on tour at one of my favourite tournaments," Sharapova was quoted as saying by the tournament's press service.
"I can't wait to see all my great fans and to be back doing what I love," she added.
The tennis player has been serving a two-year suspension for violation of anti-doping regulations since January 26 last year. However, the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled on October 4, 2016 to reduce her suspension term from 24 to 15 months. Sharapova is officially eligible to make her comeback on April 26 this year.
Last March, Sharapova was the first to announce that her doping tests revealed the presence of performance enhancing drug meldonium in the body system. Following the announcement, the former World's No.1 was provisionally suspended from all tennis-related activities.
In early June, Sharapova filed an appeal with the CAS in Switzerland's Lausanne against her two-year suspension, which was officially announced on June 8 by the ITF Tribunal over anti-doping violations.
Due to the imposed ban Sharapova, the silver Olympic medallist of the 2012 Games in London, had to miss the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, held last August in Rio de Janeiro.
Mildronate is a cardiovascular preparation freely available for purchase at pharmacies across Russia without a doctor's prescription.
(With IANS inputs)