18 months ago, the last edition of #TheTennisTribune concluded with acknowledging that Maria Sharapova would be returning to play in March 2016. Her first match since her quarter final defeat to her nemesis, Serena Williams at the Australian Open.
Fast forward one week later, the world that I knew was turned upside down. Maria held a press conference and announced that she had failed a drugs test. I don’t think there is anything further to add, an endless amount of articles have been written and surely everyone at this stage is aware of what happened, and have formed an opinion on it and will firmly stick to them. I for one, stood by her, continued to support her and that support will never dwindle.
Although Masha’s return to the tour occurred on the 26th April in Stuttgart, where she defeated Roberta Vinci in the first round, (funnily enough Vinci was heavily featured in the last edition of The Tennis Tribune), her return has constantly been spoken about ever since. I think we can all agree her “return” ended after her first round win at the Arthur Ashe stadium in Flushing Meadows. The Russian played what many described the final of a Grand Slam as her first round match. To put this into context, Masha defeated the Romanian Simona Halep in the 2014 Roland Garros Final, and how god mysteriously worked, Masha’s opponent was none other than the Romanian. The celebration at the end of Masha’s first win at the US Open since 2014, was the equivalent to any of the 5 celebrations that Sharapova had at each of her Grand Slam wins. Sharapova collapsed to her knees in disbelief. The emotion that Sharapova must have felt was indescribable. Masha had finally silenced her critics. Hence, for these reasons, the return of Sharapova should no longer be referred to, Sharapova has returned and it will be business as usual, where she’ll be a contender to lift some trophies during the Asian swing of the WTA Tour.
Till next time,