Maria Sharapova and the BIGGEST controversy of her life

Washinton, Sept 2: Maria Yuryevna Sharapova was born on April 19, 1987 is a Russian professional tennis player. Sharapova became a United States resident since 1994. She has been ranked world No. 1 in singles by the WTA on five separate occasions, for a total of 21 weeks. She is one of ten women, and the only Russian, to hold the career Grand Slam. She is also an Olympic medalist, having earned silver for Russia in women's singles at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. 

Sharapova became world No. 1 for the first time on August 22, 2005, at the age of 18, and last held the ranking for the fifth time for four weeks from June 11, 2012, to July 8, 2012. Her 35 singles titles and five Grand Slam titles—two at the French Open and one each at the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and US Open—rank third among active players, behind Serena and Venus Williams. She won the year-ending WTA Finals in her debut in 2004. She has also won three doubles titles.

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Now, Maria Sharapova is slated to return to tennis on Wednesday afternoon after a 15-month drug suspension and even before she takes the court, the Russian superstar is already embroiled in a major controversy regarding her merit and eligibility to play top-tier tournaments, started by hypocritical peers funneling jealousy and dislike through a phony naivety about the inner-workings of the sport that makes them rich.

More than a dozen players, including Sharapova’s first comeback opponent Roberta Vinci, have publicly complained that the Russian, who is currently unranked due to not having played in the last 12 months, is being given wild cards into the main draws of tournaments instead of having to play qualifiers or completely starting from nothing and beginning her comeback with bottom-tier events with $15,000 in total prize money and fully building her way back to the top of the sport. They view main-draw wild cards as an unjust reward for a player who was suspended for taking a banned substance.

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A player who has tested positive should start from scratch like everyone else and win her place back,” French player Alize Cornet told reporters this week. You shouldn’t roll out the red carpet for her, added the player.

 It’s not exactly a red carpet, but yes, the five-time Grand Slam champion, former world No. 1 and one of the two most recognizable faces in the sport was given a wild card to this week’s event in Stuttgart (which is sponsored by one of Sharapova’s endorsers, Porsche) as well as top-tier tournaments next month in Madrid and Rome. On May 15, French Open officials will announce whether they’ll give Sharapova a free berth into their Grand Slam event (in a live online event, in case you wondered about the virtues of the French Tennis Federation). She could qualify for the year’s second Slam based on her rankings depending on how she performs in those three comeback tournaments but it’s not likely.

Recently, Maria Sharapova made the US Open last 32 Wednesday, insisting she has instilled renewed fear into her rivals and rekindled the love from her fans. 

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The former world number one and five-time major winner pulled off a 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-1 win over Timea Babos of Hungary.

It was her second three-set match, having seen off world number two Simona Halep on Monday in what was her first Grand Slam match since being hit with a 15-month doping ban. 

"I think with the way that I played Monday night, I don't think there are any more questions," said the 30-year-old when pushed on whether her spot in the tournament was justified.

The 2006 champion, and guaranteed arena-filler, needed a wild card to play in New York after her prolonged absence from the sport had left her with a world ranking of 146.

It was a decision widely criticized with many insisting she should work her way back into the main draw and not be given a helping hand.

"I definitely feel the respect from the athletes," Sharapova insisted.