Sharapova marks comeback from ban with win over Vinci

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The Russian who has been serving a ban since a year ago ban will return at the Stuttgart open in Germany. There were cheers for the Russian in the court, along with some flags of her country, showing support towards the former world number one. And I'm a competitor by nature, even when things are not working.

"You have to look at how other leagues and tours have handled players who have come back", Simon told BBC Sport. In her post match press conference, Sharapova defended her accepting of the slot by saying "I am not getting a wildcard to receive a trophy or a golden platter". So I just think the WTA sends the wrong message to young kids: you know, cheat and we'll welcome you back with open arms. It ruined it for me a little bit.

Due to the suspension, Sharapova lost her ranking.

While some say Sharapova, initially banned for two years after testing positive for Meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, has done her time some fellow players are angry the red carpet is being rolled out. To know I would be walking back into the arena was very special.

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Maria Sharapova returns from a 15-month doping ban on Wednesday with promoters of the Stuttgart tournament drooling over profit margins while rivals condemn the smooth road prepared for the Russian superstar's rehabilitation. She ripped returns for winners, celebrating with a clenched pumped fist. Sharapova beat another unseeded player in the first round of the tournament.

Sharapova was clearly nervous at the start, firing three forehands long in the first game, double-faulting on her first service-game point and being broken by Vinci, who took a quick 2-0 lead.

Russia's Maria Sharapova reacts after a point over Italy's Roberta Vinci in their first round match at the WTA tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany, on April 26, 2017.

Vinci offered little resistance as the five-time Grand Slam champion powered to victory in one hour 43 minutes, hitting 11 aces and 39 winners.

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The pair served out until Sharapova produced a couple of huge returns and broke to go 6-5 up, winning the first set. "I'm sure he's been watching everyone's comments in the last 15 months and he is entitled to his opinion".

Several players, including Vinci, have criticized the invitation for a player who has been caught doping.

When Vinci held serve to go 5-4 up, the Italian had already won more games than in her two previous matches, both two-set defeats, against Sharapova. Finishing with 39 winners (including those 11 aces), Sharapova displayed the kind of offensive shotmaking that make her such a risky player, particularly on clay.

It has been a long and controversial road back for Sharapova but there is no animosity from her end. "I still have to win the matches and that's my job". "She's had a year and a half".

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"I need to play points and games and sets and matches - all matches are important for me".

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