Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, who made a return from her 15-month doping ban earlier this month, has vowed that her tennis will do the talking when she meets Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard in the second round of the Madrid Open later today.
Earlier, Sharapova was handed a wildcard entry at Stuttgart Open as she made it to the semifinals of her first tournament since testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.
The five-time Grand Slam champion had previously also received wild cards for Madrid (May 7-13) and Rome (May 15-21) tournaments.
Labelling Sharapova as a ‘cheater’, Bouchard had last week suggested that the Russian player should have been kicked out of the sport for life, instead of welcoming her with a series of wildcards for high-profile tournaments.
Hitting back at Bouchard, Sharapova claimed she has had enough experience of listening such kind of things since making her breakthrough by winning Wimbledon at the age of 17 years.
“I’ve been in the public eye since I was a very young girl. I’ve heard a lot of things. If everything affects you on and off the court, I think that would be a really challenging position to be in,” Sport24 quoted Sharapova as saying.
“It’s not the way I think. My tennis speaks for itself, and that’s what I focus on,” she said after struggling past Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the opening clash.
Despite the constant criticism following her comeback, Sharapova asserted that she doesn’t care about the same and likes to remain very much in her element.
“I love being quiet about it and letting everyone around speak or have the noise. I’m very much in my element. I think it’s always great to be the person that’s kind of in control of your actions while everything around you is moving in a different way,” he added.
If Sharapova manages to extend her unbeaten record over Bouchard to five matches, she will edge closer to qualifying for Wimbledon in June without the need of a wildcard from the All England Club.
“I would love to be in a position to compete in that event. It’s very meaningful to me,” she added.
Sharapova’s initial two-year ban was earlier reduced to 15 months following an appeal to the court of arbitration for sport, which concluded she had not intended to cheat.