Before Sharapova’s official return to the court on Wednesday for her first match since the 2016 Australian Open, Bouchard, the world No. 59, ripped to shreds the World Tennis Association for allowing Sharapova to play following her testing positive for a banned substance, according to New York Post.
Sharapova, the former world No. 1, beat Roberta Vinci, 7-5, 6-3, in Germany’s Porsche Grand Prix. Sharapova’s 15-month ban wasn’t nearly long enough for Bouchard.
“I don’t think that’s right. She’s a cheater,” Bouchard told Turkey’s TRT World in a video released Tuesday. “I don’t think a cheater at any sport should be allowed to play that sport again. It’s so unfair to all the other players who do it the right way and are true. I think from the WTA it sends the wrong message to young kids: ‘Cheat and we’ll welcome you back with open arms.’”
Sharapova, from Russia, initially was given a two-year ban for taking meldonium, which she had been taking for years, but which the World Anti-Doping Agency had added to its no-no list on Jan. 1, 2016. On March 7 of that year, she revealed she had tested positive at the Australian Open and appealed the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which said she “bore some degree of fault” — 15 months, not 24, for the five-time Grand Slam champ.
“I don’t think that’s right, and definitely not someone I look up to anymore because it’s definitely ruined it for me a little bit,” said Bouchard, a Canadian.
How the rest of the sport reacts to the return of one of tennis’ most recognizable faces will be interesting to see. Ekaterina Makarova and Svetlana Kuznetsova — both countrywomen of Sharapova — were in attendance for her win Wednesday.
Makarova and Kuznetsova. pic.twitter.com/0FVObcPcTR
— Ilya Ryvlin (@ryvlin) 26 апреля 2017 г.