Maria Sharapova urged by Boris Becker to 'be more friendly' when she returns

Charlie Eccleshare
Boris Becker said of Maria Sharapova:

Boris Becker has urged Maria Sharapova to be "more charming and friendly" to her fellow players when she returns from a 15-month doping ban next week

Sharapova has been given a wildcard for the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, and will play her first match since January 2016 next Wednesday - the day her ban ends - despite the tournament starting on Monday. 

The six-time grand slam champion Becker is not opposed to Sharapova being allowed to play the biggest tournaments, but he believes she must change her off-court demeanour.

"In general I always believe in second chances, but obviously you need to learn from your mistakes," said Becker.

"There's no secret that she was one of the most unpopular players in the locker room so a lot of players have their opinions about her."

Becker could return to coaching this year Credit: GPPics

This view echoes that of the world No 17 Barbora Strycova, who served a doping ban in 2013 and told The Daily Telegraph last month: "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."

Becker added: "The question is on her and how does she treat the comeback? Will she behave the way she behaved before? That would not be so good. 

"Will she be a bit more charming and a bit more friendly to everybody? I hope so. People make mistakes, it's the nature of things. I just hope she becomes a little more friendly towards the other players. 

"She's still a young woman, there's still room for improvement on a personal level. On a professional level she was a grand slam champion, she is a superstar in her sport. So I hope she can add to it a little bit on a personal level."

When asked if Sharapova should be given French Open and Wimbledon wildcards, Becker said: "It would be foolish for the biggest tournaments in the world not to offer the most important players wildcards, and she's one of the most important players. 

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"We live in a world of business so you cannot blame tournaments, but I hope Maria will work really hard to change what was Maria in the past with what Maria is today. 

"I think everybody will applaud her and wish her luck, I think it's in her hands."

Becker also revealed that he is considering a return to coaching, having split with Novak Djokovic at the end of last year. "I wouldn't rule it out," he said. "I'm quite happy with the TV work I do for the majors so that's fine. Obviously players come to me and ask for my services. 

"At the moment I'm quite happy where I am but I wouldn't rule it out." 

Boris Becker was speaking at the partypoker MILLIONS Event, Dusk Till Dawn Nottingham. For information visit www.partypoker.com     

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