Barbora Strycova 'shocked' by allowances made in Maria Sharapova return

Sports Staff
The Czech has spoken out against Sharapova: Getty

Former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Barbora Strycova has become the latest player to criticise the allowances being made for Maria Sharapova on her return to tennis.

Sharapova, a former world number one and five-time grand slam winner, was initially banned for two years after failing a doping test at last year's Australian Open before having the punishment reduced to 15 months on appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

She will return to action at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, playing her first match on Wednesday, April 26, which is the day her suspension ends.

Handed a wild card to the tournament, Sharapova can play no part on the opening Monday or Tuesday, and allowing her to compete has been questioned by Britain's Heather Watson and Denmark's former world number one Caroline Wozniacki.

Strycova, a 31-year-old Czech, almost walked away from the sport in February 2013 when she was banned after testing positive for the stimulant sibutramine, which she unknowingly ingested when taking a slimming aid.

She served a six-month suspension but the red carpet was not rolled out on her own return, Strycova said.

World number 20 Strycova said in the Daily Telegraph: "I think it's not okay. I think when you do something like this you have to be punished. But she is Maria and what can you do? I will not get p***** off about it. I'm a bit shocked actually with what is happening at the tournament in Stuttgart but I can't change it so I won't think about it.

"Of course it would have been nice to have wild cards when I came back but I'm not Sharapova. Nothing changed for her. She can play the same tournaments as me.

"I don't have anything against her, and if I play her I will prepare the same - I won't feel pushed to win any more than I normally do. That's her problem; she did it; this is her career. What I don't like is that she can play Wednesday, whereas we are coming from the Fed Cup and we have to play on Tuesday. It's nothing against her, but for me it is against the rules."

Sharapova has never hidden the fact she has few friends on the tennis tour, saying at Wimbledon four years ago: "I'm not really friendly or close to many players."

That has not changed, according to Strycova who said: "I'm not her friend. I don't think anyone is her friend on the tour. She doesn't have (friends), I don't think, because she doesn't talk to anybody."

PA

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