Australian Open: Maria Sharapova parading the trophy sends wrong message to dopers

Sunday, 14 Jan, 2018

"In fairness to Maria, the adjudication has occurred on that".

Australian Open organisers have defended the decision to have Maria Sharapova walk the trophy on to the court for the tournament draw.

"Maria is an Australian Open champion and she deserved the opportunity".

Sharapova was previously snubbed by the French Open past year after they refused to hand her a wildcard on moral grounds.

"We wanted to have a former champion", he said.

In a sign of things to come, the withdrawal of Serena Williams - not ready to return after giving birth to her first child in September - took away significant star power from the women's draw.

Sharapova was ill when Serena Williams won the tournament, defeating her sister in the final.

The player also had the easiest of rides in her on-stage interview with the host broadcaster, Channel 7.

The 2008 champion and five-time major victor may not be overly popular with her rivals, but she is still a drawcard among supporters.

He said: "It was an unbelievable final, an awesome moment for me in my life and it's great to be back here". The fifth set was maybe the best set I ever played. I thought I'd win a few tournaments and then have a family.

"In her autobiography past year, Sharapova observed of Williams, who has a 19-2 career record over her: "[Her] physical presence is much stronger and bigger than you realise watching TV.

"I certainly hope I can put myself in that position. because I've been there and have delivered on those moments". Those observations created a brief but considerable storm.

In the absence of Williams and Victoria Azarenka, who is embroiled in an ongoing custody battle over baby son Leo, Sharapova and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber are the only former winners in the draw.