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Maria Sharapova set to return in April following drug ban

She has not played since the 2016 Australian Open.

Maria Sharapova in action at the 2016 Australian Open
Maria Sharapova in action at the 2016 Australian Open

MARIA SHARAPOVA WILL make her professional return to tennis this coming April at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, following a 15-month doping ban.

The Russian was suspended after failing a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open. The ban was initially due to run until January 2018 after testing positive for the banned substance meldonium.

The five-time Grand Slam champion, who claimed to be a long-time user of meldonium for medicinal reasons, said she was unaware that meldonium had been added to WADA’s prohibited list at the start of 2016. An appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in her favour, and announced in October that her ban would conclude in April 2017.

On Tuesday, it was confirmed that Sharapova would make her comeback at the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) Premier clay-court event, which she won three consecutive times between 2012 and 2014.

This year’s tournament begins on 26 April, with the French Open at Roland Garros set to get under way in May.

“I could not be happier to have my first match back on tour at one of my favourite tournaments,” said Sharapova.

“I can’t wait‎ to see all my great fans and to be back doing what I love.”

Tournament director Markus Gunthardt added: “I’m really happy for Maria that she’s back after a long break. Particularly pleasing for me is that it’s going to be our audience that gets to watch her comeback live.

“Her return in the Porsche Arena is a fabulous present for our fantastic spectators and is certain to be one of the sporting and emotional highlights of our anniversary tournament.”

Additional reporting by Omnisport

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