Maria Sharapova
Siberian Siren
Tennis Champion

Last updated: April 18, 2018 | Open Since: Feb 18, 2008 | Email Us: Here | Get a Free Email Account

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Maria Sharapova
Height: 6-2
Weight: 130
Birth Name: Maria Yuryevna Sharapova
Book (Hardcover): Unstoppable: My Life So Far
Book (Kindle): Unstoppable: My Life So Far
Book (Audio): Unstoppable: My Life So Far
Twitter: @MariaSharapova
Birth Date: Apr 19, 1987
Birth Place: Nyagan, Siberia, Russia
Home: Bradenton, Florida
Nicknames: Masha, Siberian Siren
Parents: Yuri and Yelena
Racquet: Prince O3 White
Clothing: Nike
Shoes: Nike Air Zoom Mystify II
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Trademark: Grunts loudly when striking the ball

2018 At A Glance

Current WTA Rank: 41
WTA Tournaments Played: 4
WTA Record: 5-4
Hardcourt: 5-4
Clay: 0-0
Carpet: 0-0
Grass: 0-0

Tournaments Won in 2017

Tianjin Open

Maria Sharapova
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2018 Tournament Results

Tournament (Seed) Surface Round Opponent W/L Score
Shenzhen Gemdale Open Hard First Round Mihaela Buzarnescu W 6-3, 6-0
Dec. 31 - Jan. 6 Second Round Alison Riske W 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Quarterfinals Zarina Diyas W 6-3, 6-3
Semifinals Katerina Siniakova L 2-6, 6-3, 3-6
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Australian Open Hard First Round Tatjana Maria W 6-1, 6-4
Jan. 15 - Jan. 28 Second Round Anastasija Sevastova W 6-1, 7-6 (7-4)
Third Round Angelique Kerber L 6-1, 6-3
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Qatar Total Open Hard First Round Monica Niculescu L 6-4, 4-6, 3-6
Feb. 12 - Feb. 17
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
BNP Paribas Open Hard First Round Naomi Osaka L 4-6, 4-6
Mar. 7 - Mar. 18


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Sharapova to make grasscourt return in Birmingham

(4/18/18) Former world number one Maria Sharapova will compete at the Birmingham Classic grasscourt event in the lead-up to Wimbledon, Britain's Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) announced on Wednesday.

The June 18-24 tournament is set to be the Russian's first on grass since she reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2015.

Sharapova, who won the Birmingham title in 2004 and 2005, was granted a wildcard at the event last year before a thigh injury forced her to skip the grasscourt season.

The five-time grand slam winner has failed to rediscover her best form after returning from a doping ban last year and split with coach Sven Groeneveld following a first-round exit at the BNP Paribas Open last month.

The defeat in California was the first time Sharapova had lost three consecutive matches since 2003 and the Russian has since withdrawn from the Miami Open with a forearm injury.

The 30-year-old joins a strong field in Birmingham, including Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain, British number one Johanna Konta and Czech Petra Kvitova, who lifted the trophy at the Edgbaston Priory Club last year.

"Maria is one of the biggest stars of her generation and a former champion in Birmingham, so it will be great to see her back on the grass courts of the Edgbaston Priory Club," tournament director Patrick Hughesman said in a statement.

"This year's line-up of players is already incredibly strong and we could get more big names signing up in the next couple of weeks."

Sharapova commits to play in new Bay Area tour event

(4/17/18) Maria Sharapova has committed to play in the Bay Area this summer as the former Stanford WTA stop moves to San Jose State University.

The five-time Grand Slam champion will play in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic from July 30 to. Aug. 5, the tournament announced Monday. It has a 28-player singles draw.

This will be the first year of the event at San Jose State after the former Bank of the West Classic was held at Stanford.

After a first-round win last year, former world No. 1 Sharapova withdrew from the 2017 tournament at Stanford with soreness in her left arm. That came after she dealt with a left thigh injury following her April 2017 return from a 15-month doping ban.

Maria Sharapova withdraws from Miami with forearm injury

(3/17/18) Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from the Miami Open that begins next week because of a left forearm injury.

Sharapova announced the decision on Friday. She’ll be replaced in the main draw by American Jennifer Brady.

Sharapova lost in the first round at Indian Wells last week and in the third round of the Australian Open in January. She returned to the tour last year after a 15-month doping ban.

The women’s field includes eight-time Key Biscayne champion Serena Williams and No. 1-ranked Simona Halep. The men’s field includes defending champion Roger Federer and six-time Key Biscayne champ Novak Djokovic.

Struggling Sharapova splits with coach

(3/9/18) Former world number one Maria Sharapova said on Friday she had split with her coach Sven Groeneveld, two days after losing a third consecutive match for the first time since 2003.

The news comes after Sharapova, who said the decision to end their four-year partnership was "mutually agreed", was beaten by 44th-ranked Naomi Osaka in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open in California on Wednesday.

After losing in the third round of the Australian Open to Angelique Kerber she was then beaten in the first round of the Qatar Open by Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu.

She pulled out of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Sharapova has struggled to recapture top form since her 15-month ban for taking the banned drug meldonium ended last April.

"After four successful and challenging years of collaboration together, I would like to thank Sven for his incredible loyalty, work ethic and most importantly the friendship that we have formed that will go beyond this working partnership," Sharapova said in a statement on her website.

"Although we have mutually agreed to part ways during this time, I have been incredibly fortunate to have a team leader like him in my corner for the past four years."

Russian Sharapova won seven titles during her time with Groeneveld, most notably the 2014 French Open.

A two-time champion at Indian Wells, Sharapova, currently ranked 41st in the world, won the Tianjin Open in October for her first triumph since returning to the WTA Tour, but has not come close to challenging for a tournament victory since.

"Maria has been one of the most hardworking and professional players I have ever worked with," Groeneveld said.

"Her strength and fighting spirit will continue to be a force to reckon with and I have the deepest respect for her as a player and person.”

Sharapova upset by Osaka in 1st round at Indian Wells

(3/8/18) Maria Sharapova's return to the BNP Paribas Open for the first time in three years ended in a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Naomi Osaka of Japan on Wednesday night.

Sharapova's ranking of No. 41 in the world forced her to play a first-round match in the tournament she has won twice.

She trailed 4-1 in the first set before holding serve at 4-all. But Osaka held to go up 5-4 and broke Sharapova on a double fault to close out the set.

Ranked 44th in the world, Osaka took a 4-2 lead in the second set. Sharapova broke to tie it 4-all before Osaka won the final two games to end the 1 1/2-hour match.

Sam Stosur overcame a slow start to beat American Lauren Davis 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Two American teenagers advanced to the second round.

Amanda Anisimova defeated 94th-ranked Pauline Parmentier 6-2, 6-2 for her first WTA Tour victory. The 16-year-old Anisimova, who earned a wild card into the main draw, is the U.S. Open junior champion.

Caroline Dolehide, a 19-year-old wild card, fired 11 aces in outlasting 78th-ranked Shelby Rogers, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3 in 2 1/2 hours.

In other matches on the first day of the two-week tournament, Belinda Bencic saved a match point in beating Timea Babos, 1-6, 6-1, 7-6 (4), while wild card Genie Bouchard lost to qualifier Sachia Vickery, 6-3, 6-4.

Serena Williams returns to the tour for the first time in 14 months Thursday when she plays a first-round match.

Injured Maria Sharapova pulls out of Dubai

(2/16/18) Maria Sharapova has pulled out of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

No official reason has been provided for the Russian's withdrawal, although reports suggest the five-time grand slam champion has been struggling with pain in her forearms.

Sharapova was beaten in the first round of the Qatar Open by qualifier Monica Niculescu on Monday and will now miss out next week in Dubai.

American Madison Keys will also sit it out due to illness, but French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko has joined the field.

"Unfortunately, both Maria Sharapova and Madison Keys have regretfully had to withdraw from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships due to injury and illness," tournament director Salah Tahlak said, via a news release.

"We are sorry that neither Maria nor Madison will be able to play in Dubai, but we still have one of the strongest fields ever assembled for the WTA event.

"Maria said that she is very sorry she cannot be here and hopes to come back next year. We wish her and Madison a speedy recovery."

Maria Sharapova crashes out in Qatar Open first round

(2/14/18) Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova suffered a shock defeat in the first round of the Qatar Open on Monday, dumped out in three sets by outsider Monica Niculescu.

The Romanian, ranked number 92 in the world, 51 places behind the Russian, won 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. In a match lasting more than two and a half hours, Sharapova hit 52 unforced errors as opposed to just 17 from Niculescu. In blustery conditions, Sharapova also struggled to get to grips with the 30-year-old Niculescu's distinctive style, which relies heavily on a sliced forehand.

The former world number one, twice a winner in Doha, had been given a wildcard into the draw and was one the tournament's major attractions. "I did a good job of winning the longer rallies, even though that's not really what I wanted to get myself into," said Sharapova afterwards. "So, physically I felt good. I just got pretty passive in the end and starting making too many errors."

It was the 30-year-old's first appearance in Doha since 2013 and her first match since losing to Angelique Kerber in the third round of the Australian Open last month. Sharapova returned to tennis last April after completing a 15-month ban for failing a drug test. A jubilant Niculescu described it afterwards as "a very good win" as well as "a tough match".

She added: "I love it how I play and I like to be unique and I think my slice forehand is a weapon. "And when I feel good on the court then I play relaxed, I can be good and can be dangerous." Niculescu's reward is to play either Magdalena Rybarikova or wildcard Fatma Al-Nabhani in the next round.

Nine of the top ten women's players are competing in Doha this week, but arguably Sharapova was the biggest attraction. Her defeat is unlikely to please organisers after the men's tournament in Qatar last month was decimated of big name stars through injury. The competition could see a repeat of the Australian Open final as the world's new number one Carolina Wozniacki, and the woman she beat in Melbourne, Simona Halep, are seeded one and two in Doha. In another Romanian versus Russian clash, Halep will start her tournament on Tuesday, playing against Muscovite, Ekaterina Makarova, a former world number eight. Also through on Monday was world number 30 Dominika Cibulkova, who beat Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the world number 22, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4.

Kerber beats Sharapova to reach 4th round of Australian Open

(1/21/18) Angelique Kerber is on her own in an elite club at the Australian Open.

The 2016 champion routed Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-3 in a third-round win that showcased her credentials as a title contender and ensured she’ll be the only Grand Slam champion still playing in the second week in the women’s draw.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were almost as ruthless in their straight-sets wins Saturday night, which is hardly surprising for two players with a combined 31 Grand Slam titles. As well, it was Federer’s 90th match win at Melbourne Park.

Women’s No. 1 Simona Halep took a longer route — equaling a mark in Melbourne for endurance but signalling, perhaps, that she’s closer to a Grand Slam breakthrough.

Sharapova was back at the Australian Open for the first time since 2016, when a failed doping test led to a 15-month ban from tennis.

After two comfortable wins the five-time major winner was growing in confidence, but she had no answers for Kerber, who is on a 12-match winning streak in a kind of comeback of her own after a sliding down the rankings last year.

"Of course is quite a big match. I mean, Maria is a champion. She’s always dangerous, especially at the Grand Slams," Kerber said. "I was really trying to not think about everything around, about against who I’m playing.

"I learned a lot from the last 12, 24 months. I had a great 2016 and last year was a little tougher."

Kerber’s year-end ranking dropped from No. 1 in 2016 to 21 last year, when she failed to defend her Australian or U.S. Open titles. "Anybody who knows me knows I never give up."

Sharapova said Kerber was the more aggressive on court and took more risks.

"A lot of things I need to get better at and improve on," she said. "Today was not enough (but) … looking at the overall picture, there’s a lot to build from."

The Kerber-Sharapova match, billed as the showdown of the round, was over quickly. That was in contract to Halep’s 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 win in 3 hours and 45 minutes over American Lauren Davis.

The third set took 2 hours, 22 minutes. Halep wasted chances to serve for the match in the ninth, 11th and 15th games, then had to save three match points in the 22nd. There were 11 service breaks and two medical timeouts — for Davis to get treatment on both feet — before Halep converted on her first match point.

"I never played the third set so long, so I’m really happy I could stay and win it. I’m almost dead," Halep said of the match which equaled Chanda Rubin’s win over Arantxa Shanchez Vicario in 1996 — also 48 games — for the Australian Open record in terms of most games.

"I just feel that my muscles are gone," said Halep, who badly twisted her left ankle in the first round. "My ankle is, I don’t know how it is because I don’t feel it anymore!"

Halep will next play Naomi Osaka, who beat 18th-seeded Ash Barty 6-4, 6-2. No. 20 Barbora Strycova beat U.S. qualifier Bernarda Pera 6-2, 6-2, leaving U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys as the only American woman to reach the fourth round.

Keys advanced 6-3, 6-4 over Ana Bogdan and will next play No. 8 Caroline Garcia. Sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova beat No. 29 Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 7-5.

Kerber’s next match is against Hsieh Su-wei, who followed up her win over Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza with a 6-2, 7-5 win against No. 26 Agnieszka Radwanska to return to the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the first time in a decade.

Six-time Australian Open champion Djokovic continued his comeback from six months out with an injured right elbow, beating No. 21 Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.

"I obviously have to be more humble this time with my expectations because I haven’t played for six months," said the 14th-seeded Djokovic, who played down the medical time out he took to receive a massage on his back and upper legs as just the tribulations of returning to the tour.

Federer entered the Australian Open last year under similar circumstances, coming off an extended break for a knee injury, and went on to win the title. His defence moved through another round with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 win over No. 29 Richard Gasquet.

"Expectations are different," this year, Federer said. "I’m coming in very fit, very well equipped knowing five sets is not an issue. Don’t know if (winning) is going to happen this year, but so far, so good."

Tomas Berdych beat 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets and fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem beat Adrian Mannarino to set up a match against Tennys Sandgren.

Djokovic will next face Hyeon Chung, who took out a Zverev for the second time this week. Chung beat fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev 5-7, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 six days after a win over No. 32 Mischa Zverev.

Another loss at a major had the highly-touted Zverev admitting he may have a problem. He’s won five tour-level titles, but never gone beyond the fourth round at a major.

"I have some figuring out to do, what happens to me in deciding moments in Grand Slam," he said.

Kerber revival meets Sharapova roadblock as Melbourne cools

(1/19/18) Angelique Kerber's recent revival faces its toughest test in the shape of Maria Sharapova when the only two former Australian Open champions in the women's draw clash in round three on Saturday.

A cool front broke the grip of the high temperatures ahead of day six of the championships but there should still be plenty of heat out on court as the players battle for the remaining spots in the fourth round.

Defending men's champion Roger Federer's will look to continue his imperious advance through the draw when he meets Frenchman Richard Gasquet, while six-times champion Novak Djokovic and young gun Alexander Zverev are also in action.

World number one Simona Halep looks to forge further ahead into a draw increasing devoid of seeds when she meets American Lauren Davies but there is no doubting the top women's match of the day.

Sharapova, who won the Melbourne Park title as a 20-year-old in 2008, missed last year's tournament because of a 15-month doping ban and is still ranked a lowly 48th in the world as she continues her comeback.

Lefthander Kerber has plummeted down the rankings from world number to 16th on the back of a year of good old fashioned poor form but has rallied with seven straight wins to start 2018.

Kerber, who joined Sharapova in the 30-something club on Thursday, beat absent reigning champion Serena Williams to win the 2016 Australian Open and is a formidable opponent when at her best.

"I look forward to these matches. I want to be playing against opponents that are former grand slam champions," Russian Sharapova said.

"She's had success here. She's had success playing out here in these conditions on these courts. I want to see where I am on that level."

Their last three meetings have gone to three sets and Kerber is expecting another tight affair.

"I'm looking forward to playing against her," the German said. "This is the matches I'm looking forward to have, especially at the beginning of the year.

"I had a lot in the last few weeks. I will try to continue my run and playing good like I played also here like the last two matches."

Factbox: Maria Sharapova v Angelique Kerber

(1/19/18) A look at the records of Russia's Maria Sharapova and German Angelique Kerber before their third round match at the Australian Open on Saturday (prefix number denotes seeding).


Age: 30

WTA ranking: 48 (Highest ranking: 1)

Grand slam titles: 5 (Australian Open 2008; French Open 2012, 2014; Wimbledon 2004; U.S. Open 2006)

2017 Australian Open performance: Did not play

Best Australian Open performance: Winner 2008

2017 WTA win-loss record: 16-7

Former champion Sharapova has continued her strong start to the season and recorded commanding wins over German Tatjana Maria and Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in the opening two rounds.

The Russian has lost to Kerber in their last two meetings but has the overall advantage, having ousted the German on four previous occasions.

Sharapova has progressed to the fourth round of the Australian Open in each of her six appearances since 2011.


Age: 30

WTA ranking: 16 (Highest ranking: 1)

Grand slam titles: 2 (Australian Open 2016; U.S. Open 2016)

2017 Australian Open performance: Fourth round

Best Australian Open performance: Winner 2016

2017 WTA win-loss record: 28-23

Kerber's quest to move on from an underwhelming 2017 season has got off to a great start with the German marching to the Sydney International title this month.

The 30-year-old started her Australian Open campaign with a dominant win over compatriot Anna-Lena Friedsam and marked her birthday with a victory over Croatian Donna Vekic in their second round match.

HEAD-TO-HEAD (Sharapova 4 - Kerber 3)

April 2015 - Kerber d Sharapova 2-6 7-5 6-1 (Stuttgart, clay)

July 2014 - Kerber d Sharapova 7-6(4) 4-6 6-4 (Wimbledon, grass)

April 2013 - Sharapova d Kerber 6-3 2-6 7-5 (Stuttgart, clay)

Oct. 2012 - Sharapova d Kerber 6-0 3-0 Retired (Beijing, outdoor hard)

May 2012 - Sharapova d Kerber 6-3 6-4 (Rome, clay)

June 2012 - Kerber d Sharapova 6-4 6-4 (Paris, hard)

Jan. 2012 - Sharapova d Kerber 6-1 6-2 (Melbourne, outdoor hard)

Sharapova cranks up Australian Open title charge on day four

(1/18/18) Maria Sharapova laid down her Australian Open title credentials on a scorching hot Melbourne day on Thursday, with Caroline Garcia and fellow veteran Agnieszka Radwanksa joining her in the third round.

With the temperatures heading towards an energy-sapping 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) and ice-towels in use, the Russian drawcard worked hard to get off court early against Anastasija Sevastova.

It was the Latvian 14th seed who ended her Grand Slam comeback in the last 16 of the US Open in 2017 as she returned from a drug ban. But not this time.

Sharapova was unstoppable in racing through the first set 6-1 before a battle in the second to prevail 7-6 (7/4), proving she must again be taken seriously.

"You know, it was a warm day. I did my job in two sets against someone that's been troubling in the past for me," she said afterwards.

"So third round of the Australian Open. I think I deserve to smile out there after that victory."

Being unseeded means she has her work cut out to reach another final, with a host of hurdles in her way.

Next up could be in-form 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, who plays Donna Vekic later and is starting to show glimpses of her best again after a miserable last year.

Eighth seed Garcia also stayed in the title hunt, but she found it hard going against Czech teen Marketa Vondrousova who pushed her to three gruelling sets.

The Frenchwoman, who had a breakout year in 2017, winning two titles, eventually got over the line 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 8-6 in almost two-and-a-half hours.

"My feet are burning," she said. "But we know it's like this in Australia -- the next day it can be freezing."

Two-time tournament semi-finalist Radwanksa, who has slid down the rankings and is only seeded 26, continued her under-the-radar progress with a three set win over Lesia Tsurenko.

She could potentially face third seed Garbine Muguruza next, who is still struggling with a right thigh problem and tests it against Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei.

British hope Johanna Konta is no longer in contention after she was bundled out by American "lucky loser" Bernarda Pera.

Sydney-born Konta, a quarter-finalist last year, was no match for American, who is only in the main draw after a player pulled out before the Grand Slam began, as she fell 6-4, 7-5.

Sharapova gets patience test with Melbourne set to sizzle

(1/17/18) Maria Sharapova returns to Rod Laver Arena for the first time since her drug ban for a second round match against Anastasija Sevastova on Thursday as players, officials and fans alike prepare for sweltering heat at the Australian Open.

The former world number one, who missed last year's tournament because of her ban for the use of a banned substance, takes on the Latvian 14th seed in the first match on the main showcourt so should escape the worst of the heat.

Temperatures are forecast to reach 40 degrees Celsius on Thursday and Friday but it is those on the more exposed outer courts who usually suffer most during the annual scorcher at Melbourne Park.

Sharapova lost a fourth round match in three sets to Sevastova on her return to grand slam tennis at the U.S. Open last year but got a measure of revenge in another tight clash at the China Open.

Australian Open champion a decade ago, Sharapova said she would not be looking to race through their third match in five months.

"It's not an easy match, not an easy match for anyone, especially for an aggressive player like I am," she said.

"You know, she's an opponent that tests my patience, and I'm willing to be there and out there for as long as it takes."

Another former champion, Novak Djokovic, is also likely to have his patience tested in his second match on the same court later in the day with mercurial Frenchman Gael Monfils having made something of a speciality of producing the unexpected.

Although six-times Melbourne champion Djokovic has won all 14 of their meetings at the elite level, his near contemporary is sure to fully test the fitness of the elbow that kept the Serbian on the sidelines for the second half of last year.

The meeting between Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard might bring a little frost to a hot day as the top seed and world number one said last year she did not talk to the Canadian, who beat her in the 2014 Wimbledon semi-finals.

Halep, who turned her ankle in her opening victory over local Destanee Aiava on Tuesday, will face Bouchard in the evening on Margaret Court Arena before Stan Wawrinka continues his comeback against Tennys Sandgren.

Wawrinka's fellow Swiss Roger Federer resumes his title defence against German Jan-Lennard Struff with top five seeds Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem also in action on day four.

Top seed Rafa Nadal, who will play his third round match against Bosnian 28th seed Damir Dzumhur on another scorcher on Friday, urged organizers close the roofs of the showcourts if the heat became extreme, to preserve players and fans.

"I think it's a health issue ... When it's too much, (it) becomes dangerous for the health," he said.

"I would not like to see here retirements. Conditions that create a bad show for the crowd. The crowd is suffering, too, there."

Former champs Sharapova, Kerber into 2nd round in Australia

(1/15/18) Maria Sharapova barely missed a beat in her first match back at the Australian Open since a failed doping test in 2016 resulted in a 15-month ban from tennis.

One of just two former champions in the women's draw, Sharapova recovered from an early break in the second set and closed out her 6-1, 6-4 victory over Tatjana Maria with an ace on Tuesday at Margaret Court Arena. She celebrated by twirling, waving and blowing kisses to the crowd.

''It's been a couple of years since I've been back here - obviously I wanted to enjoy the moment,'' the 2008 Australian Open champion and three-time runner-up said in an on-court TV interview. ''It was really meaningful for me to be out here.''

Sharapova was banned for after testing positive for the drug meldonium here in 2016, when she reached the quarterfinals, and finished last year ranked No. 60.

The five-time major winner got vocal support from fans during and after her opening match.

''I've got shivers. It means a lot to me,'' Sharapova said. ''I cherish these moments, I love it.''

Sharapova could next meet No. 14-seeded Anastasija Sevastova, who beat her at the U.S. Open last year in her return to a Grand Slam to tournament.

Angelique Kerber, the 2016 champion, continued her resurgent run with a 6-0, 6-4 win over fellow German Anna-Lena Friedsam.

Kerber raced through the first set in 17 minutes but had her struggles in the second and was broken twice before converting her second match point and extending her streak to 10 consecutive wins.

She opened the year by winning four singles matches at the Hopman Cup, where Germany lost the final to Switzerland, and won the Sydney International last week for her first title since the 2016 U.S. Open.

Kerber made her major breakthrough two years ago in Australia, where she beat Serena Williams in the final, and went on to reach the Wimbledon final and win the U.S. Open in a year when she rose to No. 1.

Her ranking slid into the 20s in 2017, but she's coming back into the kind of form which makes her a title contender at Melbourne Park.

''I'm just enjoying it on court again,'' Kerber said. ''Something is going on with Australia and me. I love this country - I enjoy my stay, play my best tennis.''

No. 9 Johanna Konta beat Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-1, handing the U.S. a 10th loss in 11 first-round women's matches.

The first-round upsets included Venus Williams, U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens and CoCo Vandeweghe, a semifinalist here and at the U.S. Open last year.

''It's a testament to how many great first- and second-round matches we have,'' Konta said of the early upsets. ''Shows how much depth we have in the women's game right now.''

Konta will next meet Bernarda Pera, a lucky loser in the qualifying tournament who registered the second win by an American woman at the tournament when she beat Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova 6-2, 6-2.

No. 20 Barbora Strycova's 6-1, 7-5 win over wild-card entry Kristie Ahn and Aliaksandra Sasnovich beat Christina McHale 6-3, 6-2 to make it 2 for 13 for the U.S. women so far.

Former No. 1-ranked Karolina Pliskova opened with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Veronica Cepede Royg, No. 8 Caroline Garcia beat Carina Witthoft 7-5, 6-3 and No. 29 Lucie Safarova defeated Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5, 6-3.

No. 13 Sam Querrey restored some order for the U.S. men with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Feliciano Lopez, advancing to the second round. Two other U.S. contenders, No. 8 Jack Sock and No. 16 John Isner, were among the first-round casualties on Monday.

No. 20 Roberto Bautista Agut and No. 22 Milos Raonic, a former Wimbledon finalist, were beaten.

Bautista Agut lost to fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, a semifinalist here in 2009, and Raonic lost 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (4) to Lukas Lacko in the opening match on Show Court 2.

Penpix of the top women's contenders at Australian Open

(1/13/18) Penpix of the top women's contenders at the 2018 Australian Open, which begins on Monday:

Simona Halep (Romania)

World ranking: 1

Born: Sept. 27, 1991 (Age 26)

Height: 1.68 metres

Plays: Right-handed

Grand slam titles: 0

WTA match record in 2018 (won-lost): 5-0

After rising to the top of the rankings at the end of last year, top seed Halep has continued her ruthless form to win the season-opening Shenzhen Open trophy. The Romanian, who reached the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park in 2014 and 2015, now has the chance to win her maiden grand slam title and assert her dominance after first-round exits in the last two editions.

Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)

World ranking: 4

Born: Sept. 12, 1994 (Age 23)

Height: 1.74 metres

Plays: Right-handed

Grand slam titles: 0

WTA match record in 2018 (won-lost): 5-0

Svitolina won five singles titles last season and has started the current campaign in fine form by winning her 10th career title at the Brisbane International, dropping just one set in the process. The Ukrainian has not fared well at grand slams and will be eager to get past the third round at Melbourne Park for the first time.

Venus Williams (U.S.)

World ranking: 5

Born: June 17, 1980 (Age 37)

Height: 1.85 metres

Plays: Right-handed

Grand slam titles: 7 (Wimbledon 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, U.S. Open 2000, 2001)

Veteran Williams is among the top contenders to win her eighth grand slam and first Australian Open title following a successful campaign last year, where she finished runner-up at Melbourne Park, Wimbledon and the WTA Finals, in the absence of her sister Serena. The 37-year-old has lost to her sister in two previous Australian Open finals.

Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

World ranking: 2

Born: July 11, 1990 (Age 27)

Height: 1.77 metres

Plays: Right-handed

Grand slam titles: 0

WTA match record in 2018 (won-lost): 4-1

Wozniacki is showing no signs of slowing down since winning her 27th singles title at the ATP Finals last October as the Dane charged to the Auckland Classic final, where she lost to Julia Goerges after a tough match. The 27-year-old is yet to win a major and will be keen to better her record at Melbourne Park, where she reached the semi-finals in 2011.

Maria Sharapova (Russia)

World ranking: 47

Born: April 19, 1987 (Age 30)

Height: 1.88 metres

Plays: Right-handed

Grand slam titles: 5 (Wimbledon 2004, French Open 2012, 2014, Australian Open 2008, U.S. Open 2006)

WTA match record in 2018 (won-lost): 3-1

The resurgent Russian is among the few contenders at Melbourne Park this year to have a major title to her name. The 30-year-old returned from a doping ban last season and went on to win the Tianjin Open. Sharapova kicked off the current season with a run to the semi-finals of the Shenzhen Open last week and is in prime position to get back to her ruthless best and win her first grand slam since 2014.

Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia)

Born: June 8, 1997 (Age 20)

Height: 1.77 metres

Plays: Right-handed

World ranking: 7

Grand slam titles: 1 (French Open 2017)

WTA match record in 2018 (won-lost): 0-2

French Open champion Ostapenko continued her momentum after her shock win at Roland Garros, reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the third round of the U.S. Open for the first time. The 20-year-old ended last season with two semi-final appearances in Wuhan and Beijing and also qualified for the WTA finals. Despite her early exit in Shenzhen and Sydney, Ostapenko will be targeting another first as she aims to reach the fourth round at Melbourne Park.

Australian Open claims Maria Sharapova carried trophy into 2018 draw because she was only former champion available

(1/12/18) The Australian Open defended its decision to ask Maria Sharapova to carry the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup into the draw ceremony, arguing that she was the only former champion who had been available for the showpiece event.

Sharapova – whose last act at Melbourne Park was to provide a tainted urine sample in January 2016 – received a big build-up as she walked onto Margaret Court Arena with the trophy. An obsequious interview with Hamish McLachlan ensued, in which McLachlan referred to her “time out” as if she had taken a holiday rather than serving a 15-month doping ban.

In normal circumstances, defending champion Serena Williams would have appeared at the draw, but she is at home in Florida with her four-month-old daughter Alexis Olympia. And the only other former champion in this year’s event is Angelique Kerber, who is due to appear in the semi-finals at the Sydney International on Friday.

Asked why Sharapova had been chosen for this honour, the Australian Open’s tournament director Craig Tiley replied “As part of the tradition, we have the former champions [for the draw ceremony]. We needed a former champion to come, she accepted the invite.”

Tiley was then asked whether it was appropriate for Sharapova’s first public appearance here since her doping offence to be couched in such celebratory terms.

“In fairness to Maria, the adjudication has occurred on that,” he said. “It's her 10-year anniversary” – Sharapova won her lone Australian Open title in 2008 – “like it's the 30-year anniversary of this great Melbourne Park. Maria is an Australian Open champion. She deserved the opportunity.”

Despite the absence of any current champions to choose from, there would have been a case for calling up a legend from the past – such as Evonne Goolagong Cawley – to accompany male defending champion Roger Federer.

Instead, the Australian Open has made tennis look soft on doping offenders. It is hard to imagine Wimbledon welcoming Sharapova back so enthusiastically, nor the French Open, which last year denied her a wild card on moral grounds.

Halep faces wild card in Australian Open first round

(1/12/18) Romania's world No.1 Simona Halep will face Australian wild card Destanee Aiava as her first round opponent at the Australian Open, while Thursday's draw could also see her go up against Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals.

Halep, who has been beaten in the first round four times in Melbourne, must first overcome Aiava if she is to realise her dream of going on to win a first Grand Slam title.

This year's Australian Open field is wide open following the decision by 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams not to defend her title in Melbourne, saying she was not quite ready to compete after giving birth in September.

Last year's British quarter-finalist Johanna Konta is in the same quarter as Halep and faces American Madison Brengle first up.

Danish former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, the second seed after her resurgence in 2017 when she reached eight finals, opens against Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania in the bottom half of the draw.

Wozniacki is projected to face French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the quarters.

Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza is in the same half of the draw as Halep and takes on France's Jessika Ponchet in the opening round.

Muguruza, seeded three, could face another Frenchwoman, Caroline Garcia, in the quarters.

The 2008 champion Maria Sharapova, who on Monday moved back into the world's top 50 for the first time since returning from a 15-month doping ban, is unseeded and takes on 47th-ranked German Tatjana Maria in the first round in the same section of the draw.

Evergreen 37-year-old Venus Williams, who last won a Slam in 2008, is seeded five and has a first-round encounter with Swiss Belinda Bencic, who teamed up with Roger Federer to win the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth last week.

Williams could face Ukraine's fourth seed Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals.

Federer, Djokovic drawn in same half for Australian Open

(1/11/18) Roger Federer found himself in a slightly awkward position before the Australian Open draw.

Just being there.

A few minutes later when the formalities were completed, Federer found out how difficult defending his title could be after landing in the same half as six-time champion Novak Djokovic.

"This is not normal," Federer told a crowd of hundreds of fans before the draw on Thursday at Margaret Court Arena. "I don’t like usually going to draws because they freak me out. I don’t want to know who I play other than just seeing the sheet at the end and knowing who my first-round opponent is."

First up, the 36-year-old Swiss will play Ajaz Bedene of Slovenia. He also has No. 7-ranked David Goffin, Juan Martin del Potro, Sam Querrey, and Milos Raonic in his quarter.

There’s a potential semifinal against Djokovic, who is aiming for a record seventh Australian Open title but is seeded 14th as he returns from six months on the sidelines with a right elbow injury.

Djokovic is in the same quarter as the Zverev brothers — fourth-seeded Alexander could meet older brother and No. 32-seeded Mischa in the third round — 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, and No. 5 Dominic Thiem.

Federer beat Rafael Nadal in the final here last year on his return from six months on the sidelines and is seeded No. 2 as he bids for a 20th Grand Slam singles title.

Djokovic had a contrasting 2017, starting at No. 2 but losing in a second-round upset at the Australian Open and not playing again after Wimbledon. It was the first year since 2009 that Djokovic didn’t reach at least one Grand Slam final. He delayed his return until two exhibition appearances this week.

Top-ranked Nadal will open against Victor Estrella Burgos, has a potential fourth-round match against John Isner, and No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov in his half of the draw. He followed his run to the final in Melbourne by winning the French Open and U.S. Open, splitting the Grand Slam honours with Federer for the year.

Serena Williams has opted not to defend her title four months after giving birth to her first child, leaving the women’s draw open.

Her sister Venus, who lost the all-Williams Australian Open final last year, has a tough opener against Belinda Bencic — who combined with Federer to win the Hopman Cup for Switzerland last week — and is also in the same quarter as U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens.

Top-ranked Simona Halep opens against Australian wild card Destanee Aiava, has a potential second-round match against 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard, and is in the same half as Garbine Muruguza, the Wimbledon champion.

Third-seeded Muguruza is in a difficult quarter containing former Australian Open champions Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber, and U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys.

Sharapova, who won the 2008 Australian title and reached three other finals at Melbourne Park, missed last year’s tournament during a 15-month suspension after a failed doping test here in 2016.

The five-time major winner finished 2017 ranked No. 60, meaning she missed out on a seeding for the Australian Open and could face 2016 champion Kerber in the third round.

"There’s no easy way to get to the top," Sharapova told the crowd at Margaret Court Arena before the draw. "You always have to beat the top players in order to get to the top."

Organizers defended the decision to invite Sharapova to appear as the representative for the women’s draw, with tournament director Craig Tiley saying the sanction was over and the 30-year-old Russian was there as a former champion.

Sharapova said after a long time out she had to be patient coming back to the tour, but was still confident of returning to the top ranking and winning major tournaments.

"The drive, I still have it. I certainly will hope I put myself in that position," Sharapova said. "I put a lot of expectations on myself because I have been there, and I have delivered in those moments. I expect to continue to do so."

Siniakova beats Sharapova to reach Shenzhen Open final

(1/5/18) Defending champion Katerina Siniakova defeated Maria Sharapova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 on Friday in her first meeting with the five-time major winner to reach the final of the Shenzhen Open.

The sixth-seeded Siniakova hit 10 aces to set up a final on Saturday with top-ranked Simona Halep, who beat fourth-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu 6-1, 6-4.

"I’m so happy," Siniakova said. "You could see the emotions after I finally won the last point. It was a tough match for me, and even tougher to close it."

Sharapova, who is set for a return to the Australian Open which starts on Jan. 15, struggled with her serve, double faulting five times. Sharapova missed last year’s tournament during a doping ban that dated back to a failed test for meldonium at Melbourne Park in 2016.

In the first semifinal in Shenzhen on Friday, Halep had 15 winners and four service breaks as she maintained her perfect record against her doubles partner, improving to 6-0 against Begu.

"It was a tough match, I know that she’s a very strong player and in the second set, you could see that she was improving her game," Halep said. "I was strong enough to hit the ball (well) in the end."

Sharapova, Halep advance to semifinals at Shenzhen Open

(1/4/18) Maria Sharapova continued her preparations for an Australian Open return by beating Zarina Diyas 6-3, 6-3 Thursday to advance to the Shenzhen Open semifinals along with top-seeded Simona Halep.

The five-time major winner dictated play against Diyas, hitting 24 winners and five aces to clinch victory in just under 90 minutes on Thursday.

"I didn’t play my best tennis, and there’s certainly a lot of things to improve on," Sharapova said. "The great thing is that I’m through and have another chance to play tomorrow."

She will play defending champion and No.6-seeded Katerina Siniakova for a place in the final. Siniakova beat Kristyna Pliskova 6-2, 6-2.

Sharapova missed the last Australian Open during a doping ban that dated back to a failed test for meldonium at Melbourne Park in 2016, and is keen to make a return to the season’s opening major which starts Jan. 15.

Top-ranked Halep also eased into the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Aryna Sabalenka.

Halep’s 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 win over local favourite Duan Yingying on Wednesday ensured she will retain the No. 1 ranking for the Australian Open.

Irina-Camelia Begu advanced to the Shenzhen semifinals earlier Thursday with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Timea Babos.

Maria Sharapova wins, Ostapenko loses at Shenzhen Open

(1/2/18) Maria Sharapova had 11 aces and saved seven of 10 break points to beat Alison Riske 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Tuesday and advance to the Shenzhen Open quarterfinals.

The five-time major winner will next face Zarina Diyas, who upset third-seeded Zhang Shuai 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4.

"Although I would’ve wanted a quick and easy victory, these are the kind of matches that you need, especially with such a short preparation going into the Australian Open," Sharapova said.

Earlier, Kristyna Pliskova, the twin of former No.1-ranked Karolina Pliskova, beat French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-1, 6-4.

Ostapenko, who beat Serena Williams in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, was overwhelmed by Pliskova’s powerful serves.

"I felt a bit nervous in the second set, but my serve was really working today, which was a big help," Pliskova said.

Pliskova will next play Ana Bogdan, who beat Camila Giorgi 6-4, 6-2.

Aryna Sabalenka also advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Danka Kovinic, while Timea Babos defeated Magda Linette 6-2, 6-1.

Sharapova, Halep advance at Shenzhen Open

(1/1/18) Maria Sharapova and top-ranked Simona Halep opened their 2018 seasons with straight sets wins on Monday at the Shenzhen Open.

Sharapova finished off a 6-3, 6-0 win over Mihaela Buzarnescu with a powerful forehand winner, and Halep started her bid for a second Shenzhen title with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Nicole Gibbs.

"It’s my first victory this year as No. 1 in the world, so I’m just happy and enjoying the time," said 2015 champion Halep, who will play China’s Duan Yingying in the next round.

Sharapova dropped an early service game but recovered quickly to dominate her match.

"It’s always nice to start off the year with a victory. Overall I thought, besides a few breaks in the beginning, I really stepped up and finished the match off well," Sharapova said.

The five-time major winner will next play 2017 Shenzhen finalist Alison Riske, who opened beat fifth-seeded Wang Qiang on Sunday.

"She beat a crowd favourite yesterday, so I know I have a tough match ahead," Sharapova said. "But I just want to keep playing better, and keep improving no matter who is across the net."

No. 8-seeded Tima Babos had a 6-1, 6-1 win over Wang Xiyu.

Sharapova named in India luxury housing fraud probe

(11/21/17) Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova is under investigation in India for cheating and criminal conspiracy after the collapse of a luxury housing project that she endorsed, police and a lawyer said Tuesday.

The firm behind the development is alleged to have taken millions of dollars from homebuyers before the project folded.

"We have registered a case of cheating on directions from the court," local police officer Arvind Sharma told AFP.

He said Sharapova and the firm behind the development, Homestead Infrastructure Development, were named in the case.

The 30-year-old tennis star travelled to India in 2012 to launch the luxury high-rise apartment complex -- later named Ballet by Sharapova -- which prospective buyers were told would house a tennis academy, a clubhouse and a helipad.

The website of the project quotes Sharapova as saying her goal was to "make the owners feel like they own something special and different".

"Any celebrity who endorses any product technically becomes an agent for that company. No one would have invested in the project if Sharapova's name was not there," said Piyush Singh, a lawyer representing the complainant.

The project in Gurgaon -- a satellite city of the capital New Delhi -- was supposed to be ready in 2016 but, Singh said, construction work was abandoned after builders collected millions from homebuyers.

Calls to the developers went unanswered. Sharapova has not yet commented on the case.

Sharapova, a former world number one, made almost $30 million in 2015, according to Forbes, with $23 million of that coming from endorsements.

She has had a stop-start season since her controversial return to the game in April, following a 15-month doping ban.

Grand Slams planning to cut seeds from 32 back to 16 in 2019

(11/21/17) Grand Slam tournaments are planning to return to seeding only 16 players, instead of 32, as of 2019, and now will give a player who is a late withdrawal because of an injury 50 per cent of the first-round prize money.

Also among the announcements by the Grand Slam Board on Tuesday after two days of meetings in London last week:

— A player who retires from a first-round match or "performs below professional standards" could face a fine as high as the entire prize money due a loser in that round.

— A 25-second serve clock will be tried out at the Australian Open in January, but like at this year’s U.S. Open, not during main-draw matches.

— Players could be fined up to $20,000 for violating "strictly enforced" prematch timing, which will give them one minute to meet at the net after walking on the court, five minutes for warming up, followed by one minute to be ready for play to begin.

The four Grand Slam tournaments — the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open — doubled the number of seeded players to 32 in June 2001. That decision was made partly in response to complaints from clay-court specialists that they wanted more draw protection at Wimbledon, the only major tournament played on grass.

Going back to 16 seeds in 2019 would, in theory anyway, make early upsets more likely. That’s because if all of the highest-ranked players enter the field, whoever is No. 1 could wind up facing whoever is No. 17 in the opening round.

With 32 seeds, none was forced to play someone ranked higher than No. 33 before the third round.

The changes with regard to first-round withdrawals, retirements and lack of full effort appear to be in response to what happened at Wimbledon this year. Novak Djokovic’s first-round match at Centre Court lasted all of 40 minutes, and Roger Federer’s went 43, before their opponents stopped playing because of pre-existing injuries. Two other men also stopped mid-match that day, bringing the first-round retirement total to seven and sparking discussion about whether spectators were being shortchanged.

The rule changes issued Tuesday, and taking effect next year, let players collect half of the first-round prize money at a Grand Slam tournament if they are "unfit to play" and withdraw onsite after noon on Thursday but before the main draw begins. The person replacing them in the field — a "lucky loser" who failed to advance out of the qualifying rounds — will get the other half of that money, plus whatever they might accumulate by winning matches.

The reasoning: Injured or ill players won’t start a match simply to collect their prize money before quitting.

The 25-second serve clock gives players 5 more seconds than ATP rules currently allow on the men’s tour. But Grand Slam Board Director Bill Babcock said the clock will be used at the 2018 Australian Open on a trial basis the way it was at the U.S. Open, which tested it only for events such as qualifying and junior matches.

1st-round withdrawals at Grand Slams could lose prize money

(11/21/17) A player who withdraws or performs below professional standards during a first-round singles match at a Grand Slam tournament could be fined under new rules introduced Tuesday.

The Grand Slam Board says a player who is unfit to compete and withdraws before the draw will receive 50 per cent of the first-round prize money. The replacement will receive the remaining 50 per cent.

It is an attempt to stop players who aren’t fully fit from playing in the first round just so they can collect prize money.

At the end of a two-day meeting in London, the GSB said there will be a 25-second shot clock at the 2018 Australian Open in line with a system tested at this year’s U.S. Open.

The majors will also revert to 16 seeded players in 2019 from the current 32.

Australian Open to feature 25-second shot-clocks

(11/21/17) Players will have an additional five seconds between points at next year's Australian Open but time-wasters will have nowhere to hide thanks to the introduction of shot-clocks.

The Grand Slam Board, responsible for the rules at the four majors, confirmed on Tuesday that the Australian Open's request to raise the time from 20 to 25 seconds and strictly enforce it with an electronic shot-clock had been accepted.

The three other slams will also allow 25 seconds, bringing them into line with regular Tour events, but are not currently scheduled to have shot-clocks.

A two-day rules meeting of the Grand Slam Board in London also agreed to limit pre-match warm-ups to five minutes.

Another rule change, which could drastically alter the complexion of majors draws, could also be in place in 2019, with the number of seeds limited to 16 instead of the current 32.

This year's four slams will still have 32 seeds.

The length of time between points has been a cause of consternation in the sport and while increasing the period allowed appears counterintuitive, shot-clocks will take the decision over whether to penalize a slow player out of the umpire's hands.

Currently it is down to the discretion of the official but the inconsistency in enforcing it has caused problems.

The 25-second shot-clock was used in the U.S. Open qualifying event this year and also at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan earlier this month.

The Grand Slam Board said in a statement that the serving-time changes had been agreed unanimously.

Speeding up the game and cutting out "dead time" has been a priority for the men's ATP Tour.

ATP chief executive Chris Kermode, who praised the shot-clock innovation in Milan, believes the five-minute pre-match warmup is still too long.

American player Jared Donaldson said before the Milan tournament: "The five-minute warmup maybe is redundant and doesn't necessarily need to take place. Maybe as soon as you walk on court you have five minutes to get ready."

The Australian Open will be more specific than the current grey area, allocating players one minute to walk on and be ready for the umpire's briefing at the net, followed by a five-minute knock-up, plus one minute to prepare for the first point.

Those not ready to play within the permitted time could face fines of $20,000 (£15,117).

Sharapova, Puig heading to Puerto Rico for hurricane relief

(10/20/17) Maria Sharapova and Monica Puig will head to Puerto Rico next week to help with recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria.

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion, and Puig, who won Puerto Rico's first Olympic gold medal in any sport at the Rio de Janeiro Games last summer, will go to the island Monday to distribute portable stoves, medicine and other supplies.

The agency that represents both players said Wednesday that Puig has raised more than $125,000 to help storm victims, while Sharapova is donating proceeds from her candy company for the rest of 2017.

The storm swept across Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, causing at least 48 deaths, according to the official tally. It caused widespread flooding and knocked out the entire power grid for the island of 3.4 million people.

Sharapova eyes strong finish to season after Tianjin title

(10/17/17) Maria Sharapova was beaten by Magdalena Rybarikova 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the first round of the Kremlin Cup on Tuesday, ending her bid for a second title in two weeks.

Sharapova, who won the Tianjin Open two days ago, brought her usual power but lacked accuracy with some wild swings on key points.

"I felt fine physically, to be honest, especially after having played five matches in five days (in Tianjin). That was a big surprise," Sharapova said. "Maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been … Maybe if this tournament hadn’t been in Moscow, I wouldn’t have played it."

Sharapova was under pressure on serve from the start and saved six break points before finally being broken to 6-5. She responded by breaking Rybarikova, but Sharapova’s double fault at 4-3 in the tiebreaker handed the Slovakian the momentum to close out the set.

Rybarikova, seeded eighth, sealed the match after saving two break points to lead 5-4, then breaking Sharapova in the next game. Rybarikova will play Alize Cornet in the second round.

Six months after she returned from a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova is still trying to move back up the rankings from her current position of 57th. Her first tour appearance in Moscow in a decade drew a large and enthusiastic crowd despite taking place on a Tuesday afternoon.

Also Tuesday, seventh-seeded Julia Goerges beat Russian qualifier Polina Monova 6-0, 6-3 to set up a second-round meeting with Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

In the men’s Kremlin Cup tournament, sixth-seeded Damir Dzumhur defeated Thomas Fabbiano 6-3, 0-6, 6-2.

Sharapova eyes strong finish to season after Tianjin title

(10/15/17) Maria Sharapova is looking for a strong finish to a season that began with a doping ban and hit a high in China on Sunday when she won her first title in over two years.

The former world number one, who returned from the 15-month ban in April, defeated Belarusian teenager Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 7-6(8) in the final of the Tianjin Open on Sunday.

Sharapova said she was looking forward to building on the success next week in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup, a tournament she has not appeared at since 2007.

"Obviously coming there with the title already means a lot, but I do really want to finish strong," said the Russian, who accepted a wild card for the event.

"I don't remember the last time that I played three events in a row. But I will give it everything I have got and I know I have so many amazing fans there."

The five-times grand slam champion said the Tianjin title, the 36th of her career, was special.

"It has been a couple of years since I have held the winner's trophy. It is a great feeling," she said.

"When you start all the way from the beginning of the tournament and then you end up playing the final in a full stadium with so much enthusiasm and energy and you are the one that wins the last point, just everything falls into place.

"You have to appreciate those moments, never take them for granted."

Sharapova takes on Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova in the opening round in Moscow.

Sharapova wins her 1st title since doping ban

(10/15/17) Maria Sharapova won her first WTA title since returning from a doping ban after defeating Aryna Sabalenka to win the Tianjin Open on Sunday.

The Russian, a tournament wild card, overcame Belarusian teenager Sabalenka 7-5, 7-6 (8) despite trailing heavily in both sets.

Sharapova last won a title at the Italian Open in May 2015.

The former top-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium at the Australian Open in January 2016. That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April.

"Such a special, special tournament, and victory for me, one that I’ll remember forever," Sharapova said. "Sometimes you never know when it will all come together but it happened to me this week in Tianjin."

Sharapova displayed resilience as she came from behind in both sets to overcome her 19-year-old opponent.

Sabalenka led 4-1 in the opener and 5-1 in the second before relenting to Sharapova’s greater big-match experience. It was Sharapova’s 36th WTA singles title.

The 30-year-old Sharapova played in her first Grand Slam tournament following the ban at the U.S. Open in August, where she reached the fourth round. Sunday’s result will lift Sharapova up to No. 57 in the world rankings.

Sharapova storms into Tianjin quarter-finals

(10/14/17) Former world No 1 Maria Sharapova eased past defending champion Peng Shuai 6-3, 6-1 at the Tianjin Open to reach her first WTA final in almost two and a half years.

Sharapova, who returned to the tour in April following a 15-month doping ban, will meet teenager and Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who is ranked 102 and made her first WTA final after beating Italy's Sara Errani 6-1, 6-3 in the other semi-final.

The Russian, who is currently ranked 86, broke her Chinese opponent in the opening game and rarely looked troubled on her own serve.

Peng, ranked No 25 in the world, had no answer to Sharapova's power hitting from the baseline and gave up another break en route to conceding the first set.

Sharapova, who is yet to drop a set in Tianjin, raced into a 3-0 lead at the start of the second but suffered a brief bout of nerves while serving for the fifth game, when she was forced to save three break points.

The 30-year-old turned the tables on Peng in the very next game, breaking her opponent once again before closing out the contest in 78 minutes.

It will be Sharapova's first WTA final since she defeated Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro to win the Italian Open in May 2015.

Sharapova storms into Tianjin quarter-finals

(10/13/17) Maria Sharapova surged into the Tianjin Open quarter-finals on Thursday as she pursues her first tournament victory since her return from a doping ban.

The Russian former world number one defeated Magda Linette of Poland 7-5, 6-3 and will play Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele.

The 30-year-old Sharapova has been on the comeback trail since April after serving a 15-month suspension for taking the banned substance meldonium.

Sharapova, a five-time major-winner, is now ranked a lowly 86 in the world and she needed a wildcard to enter the Tianjin tournament.

She saw off 71st-ranked Linette in just over 98 minutes to reach only her second quarter-final since her return to action.

"We did a really good job of holding serve in the first set," Sharapova was quoted as saying by the WTA website.

"I feel like I made a few too many errors on my return game which ultimately led to a difficult first set.

"But once I broke her early in that second set I played a really good aggressive game and I felt like I had the momentum in the second."

Sharapova triumphs in Tianjin opener

(10/11/17) Maria Sharapova made an impressive start to the Tianjin Open on Wednesday by beating Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu in straight sets.

Seeded ninth, Begu loomed as a tricky first-round opponent for Sharapova, but the former world number one from Russia swept to a 6-4, 6-2 victory.

However, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova suffered a shock defeat, going out to local hope Zhu Lin in three sets.

Currently ranked 86th after returning from a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova -- granted a wildcard in Tianjin -- plays unseeded Magda Linette of Poland next.

The 30-year-old Sharapova, who returned to tennis in April after serving a suspension for taking the banned substance meldonium, has yet to win a tournament since then.

The five-times Grand Slam winner exited the China Open last week in the third round at the hands of Romania's Simona Halep, the newly crowned world number one.

But Sharapova had no such trouble against Begu, seeing off the 57th-ranked Romanian in 82 minutes.

The opening matches of the Tianjin Open have been badly disrupted because of rain and Sharapova said she was glad to finally get into action.

"It's been a long wait for everyone, it hasn't been easy," the Russian was quoted as saying by the official WTA website.

"I had a first practice outdoors and then I think it rained for 70 hours straight, unfortunately for the players."

Maria Sharapova may play WTA Moscow in mid-October

(10/10/17) Maria Sharapova may play WTA International Moscow, that will take place from 16 to 22 October. The Kremlin Cup tournament director Alexei Selivanenko will try, along with his staff, to bring the five time Grand Slam champion in the event.

'There are some chances to see her play, we discussed about it with her manager (Max Eisenbud) in New York during Us Open', Selivanenko said. 'He said that if Maria feels fresh after Beijing and Tianjin, she would like to play our event.' Sharapova made three appearances in Moscow in the past: in 2005 she lost to Dinara Safina in the quarter-finals, in 2006 to Anne Chakvetadze in the second round and in 2007 in the first round to Victoria Azarenka.

There will be Johanna Konta and Kristina Mladenovic, who both withdrew from Hong Kong, Dominika Cibulkova, Jelena Ostapenko, Ekaterina Makarova, Elena Vesnina, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Will play.

Sharapova gets red-hot Garcia in tough Tianjin opener

(10/8/17) Maria Sharapova's stop-start comeback from a 15-month doping ban takes her to the Chinese city of Tianjin this week and a tough draw against France's on-form Caroline Garcia.

The five-time Grand Slam champion and former number one from Russia has been paired with top seed Garcia in her opener at the Tianjin Open, where she was granted a wildcard.

However, 15th-ranked Garcia has been carrying a thigh injury and combined with her reaching Sunday's final of the China Open, she could yet choose to skip Tianjin.

Sharapova, now ranked a lowly 104 in the world, could hardly have a harder opponent.

Garcia is in the form of her life, winning the Wuhan Open last weekend and later Sunday playing new number one Simona Halep in the final in Beijing.

Also taking part in Tianjin, which is near the Chinese capital, is the two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

But as usual, most focus will be on the 30-year-old Sharapova, who has struggled for top form and fitness since returning to tennis in April following her suspension for taking the banned substance meldonium.

She fell in the third round at the China Open to Halep, who will be confirmed as number one for the first time on Monday.

Halep knocks error-prone Sharapova out of China Open

(10/4/17) World number two Simona Halep beat Maria Sharapova 6-2 6-2 in the China Open third round on Wednesday for her first win over the Russian in eight attempts.

Halep, who lost to Sharapova in the first round of the U.S. Open, won five out of nine break points and took advantage of an error-prone display to hand the Russian her first straight-sets defeat of the season in one hour and 12 minutes.

Despite hitting more winners than her rival, Sharapova committed 39 unforced errors and struggled to contend with the second seed's power and aggression in Beijing.

"It was a great match, I think I played my best tennis against her," Halep said.

"I served pretty well, and the work that I did after the U.S. Open, I could see it on court today. I'm really happy that I could do this. It's my first victory against her and I just want to enjoy the moment.

"Today, I said it's just another match, I just wanted to give everything I have, stay focused, calm and positive."

Sharapova agreed with Halep's assessment of the pair's second meeting in six weeks, after not playing the Romanian for almost two years.

"I think she played an incredible match, probably the best she's played against me in all of our previous meetings," Sharapova said.

"I wasn't as sharp. I wasn't seeing the ball as well. I wasn't moving up and down as well as I have been against her.

"She was hitting the ball consistently, not making a lot of unforced errors, her service percentage was quite high. She did all the right things."

The Romanian goes through to the quarter-finals where she will take on either 11th seed Agnieszka Radwanska or Daria Kasatkina, who face off later on Wednesday.

French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia took one step closer to qualifying for the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore with a 6-3 7-5 win over Australia's Samantha Stosur in round two.

Also advancing to the third round were China's Peng Shuai, who made short work of Romanian Monica Niculescu with a 6-3 6-2 win, and Wuhan Open champion Caroline Garcia of France who overcame Belgian Elise Mertens 7-6(4) 6-4.

Ukrainian Elina Svitolina then defeated Australia's Ashleigh Barty 6-4 6-2 in the second round to set up a clash with Russia's Elena Vesnina.

Halep sets up Sharapova rematch in Beijing

(10/4/17) World number two Simona Halep set up a mouth-watering third- round clash with Maria Sharapova at the China Open after the Romanian's opponent Magdalena Rybarikova retired due to illness trailing 6-1 2-1 on Tuesday.

Halep survived a break point in the opening game before powering her way to a 5-0 lead with two breaks of her own as Rybarikova struggled on serve and committed 19 unforced errors en route to conceding the first set.

The 28-year-old Slovakian conceded the match early in the second set after a medical timeout, giving Halep an opportunity to avenge her U.S. Open first-round defeat by Sharapova.

The Russian, who has never lost to Halep in seven previous meetings, beat compatriot Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 4-6 6-1 to record a second consecutive three-set victory in Beijing earlier on Tuesday.

"You can take a little bit away from all the matches we've played in the past," Sharapova said. "We know each other's games very well. They've always been very challenging, tough, competitive, emotional.

"I love the challenge of playing against someone that's number two in the world. She's a great player. She's had a great year."

Defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska made hard work of her 7-5 7-5 victory over China's Zhang Shuai, dropping serve while trying to close out the match at 5-4, but recovered to set up a third-round clash with Russian Daria Kasatkina.

Cheered on by a partisan home support, Zhang hit 35 winners to her opponent's 17, but also made 40 unforced errors as she slumped to her fourth career defeat by the Pole.

Twice grand slam champion Petra Kvitova dominated American qualifier Varvara Lepchenko in a battle of left-handers, the Czech winning 88 percent of points on serve to progress to the third round with a routine 6-4 6-4 victory.

Kvitova faces fifth seed Carolina Wozniacki next, in what promises to add another intriguing chapter to their eight-year rivalry.

Number 12 seed Kvitova holds a 6-5 lead in her head-to-head record with Wozniacki, having won their last two matches in straight sets.

Fourth seed Karolina Pliskova hit nine aces as she edged out German qualifier Andrea Petkovic 6-4 6-4 to set up a clash with Sorana Cirstea of Romania.

American CoCo Vandeweghe was forced to retire early in the second set against Daria Gavrilova, sending the Australian through to face Czech Barbora Strycova, while China's Duan Ying-ying lost to Russia's Elena Vesnina.

Sharapova digs deep in China Open epic

(9/30/17) Maria Sharapova got her revenge over Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova with a gutsy 7-6 (7/3), 5-7, 7-6 (9/7) victory in the China Open first round on Saturday.

It was the five-time Grand Slam winner's first appearance since she was beaten by Sevastova at the US Open in early September and gets her stop-start return from a doping ban back on track.

Sharapova, once number one but now ranked a lowly 104 in the world, is a wildcard in Beijing as she works her way back slowly from a 15-month ban for taking the banned substance meldonium.

She was far from her best, making a series of unforced errors, but Sharapova dug in and saved match point during an attritional encounter lasting more than three hours in the Chinese capital.

Sharapova, who has also been wrestling with injury, will take on American qualifier Jennifer Brady or fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova in the next round.

"I didn't give in, which I think is a really good sign considering it's been a few weeks since I played and she was someone that I lost to in my previous match," said a relieved Sharapova.

The 30-year-old said that "physically and emotionally" she did not have it in her when she faced Sevastova in New York in the fourth round, but feels she is getting stronger in both respects.

"When I saw the draw (Sevastova again), I was like, 'Of course,'" added Sharapova with a grin.

Sharapova, who controversially returned to tennis in April, said she was feeling "fresh" and is eager to finish the season on a high.

"Winning is very special and when you lose it's tough and you have to go on and build and work on things that didn't work out for you," she said.

Asked how far she was from getting back to her peak, Sharapova declined to say: "It's not really the way I think."

Sevastova broke the Russian -- who had the majority of the crowd behind her -- in the seventh game of the first set to seize the early initiative.

Sharapova immediately broke back for 4-4, before falling 6-5 down on her own serve when her drop shot went astray, only to strike back immediately to force a tie break.

"Come on!" the former China Open champion shouted as she wrapped up the first-set tie break.

Sharapova looked set to race through the second set to book her place in round two.

But her serve was suspect all match and the Latvian refused to submit.

Sevastova broke Sharapova once more as the match clock hit the two-hour mark to level the encounter at one-set each, before Sharapova finally saw off her resilient opponent in an epic decider.

Earlier, the second seed Simona Halep battled past the American Alison Riske in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.



Wednesday, September 20: Guests include Maria Sharapova with musical guest Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas and guest Ari Shaffir.

Maria Sharapova won’t say she likes Serena, but respects her

(9/16/17) Maria Sharapova, who beat Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2004, writes about their bitter rivalry in new book “Unstoppable: My Life So Far” — and admits she doesn’t like the tennis great, but respects her.

“I respect Serena. I mean how can I say that I like someone that’s beaten me 19 times? That’d be silly,” Sharapova told Katie Couric at the 92nd Street Y, after making a comeback appearance at the US Open following a doping ban.

She added, “To me, respect is a very important word .?.?. That’s why I use the word respect when I talk about Serena. Because I know how much it takes, and I know how much she had to work in her upbringing without coming from any money, with having a tough childhood and making it. Going against diversity and being in a position where she is now, it would be very wrong for me to sit here and say I have no respect for her.”

Williams, meanwhile, just gave birth to her daughter with fiancé Alexis Ohanian, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

Former US Open champ Sharapova entered 2017’s tournament as a wild card and made it to the fourth round.

Maria Sharapova hits out at critics saying they 'don't have the facts' and questions why melodium is banned

(9/14/17) Maria Sharapova has rounded on her critics, saying they "don't have the facts" to be able to comment on her drugs ban and subsequent return.

The former world No 1 made her comeback in April following a 15-month ban for taking the banned substance meldonium.

Sharapova has never apologised and shown little remorse for her actions which in part has led to the outrage from fellow players and pundits within the sport since her comeback. Even now the Russian will only admit to making a "mistake" but is at a loss as to why melodium is now on WADA's prohibited list.

Sharapova, who has released her memoir Unstoppable, My Life So Far, has hit out at those criticising the manner of her comeback by stating she doesn't take their comments on board.

Eugenie Bouchard has been one fierce critic of Sharapova. The Canadian said back in April: "She's a cheater and I don't think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play again."

Sharapova said of Bouchard's reaction: "I think those are comments not based on facts, and therefore I don't take them into consideration."

The 30-year-old also took aim at Andy Murray who had doubted why athletes would take meldonium, which is a prescripted heart drug.

Sharapova said in a BBC news special, The Unstoppable Sharapova: "I don't think it's for them to really have an opinion, because they don't have the facts. So, you know, I think that those are the types of words that make headlines and they will be used as headlines."

She went on to say how she has "admitted my mistake", again without offering an apology for her actions, and indicated that she is keen to move on from the episode.

Sharapova was handed a wildcard for the US Open and was given centre stage by Flushing Meadows organisers throughout her run to the fourth round.

The 20 greatest tennis players of Open era

Her special treatment was questioned by Caroline Wozniacki who was baffled how a drugs cheat could be put on the main show court match after match. And while Sharapova insists she was at fault for taking meldonium, she has questioned whether it should be banned.

"The problem I have with that is there's no proof of what it does, and no one can give you that proof. What is the ban based on?"

Sharapova reflects on Serena rivalry in new autobiography

(9/13/17) Maria Sharapova muses on her long, lopsided rivalry with Serena Williams in a new autobiography released on Tuesday and how she believes a locker room moment fueled the American's drive to dominate her.

The Russian-born Sharapova was 17 when she defeated Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final. Rather than proving the start of a long, close-run rivalry, it was one of just two victories Sharapova can claim against the US great, who has beaten her 19 times.

In her new book, "Unstoppable: My Life So Far," Sharapova says it was not only her victory, but the fact that she overheard Williams weeping afterwards in the locker room that ensured the American would always find a way to elevate her game in their future contests.

"Guttural sobs, the sort that make you heave for air, the sort that scares you," Sharapova writes of the moment, according to excerpts released by The New York Times.

"It went on and on. I got out as quickly as I could, but she knew I was there. People often wonder why I have had so much trouble beating Serena; she's owned me in the past ten years.

"I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds, at Wimbledon," she said.

In the memoir published by Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sharapova details her tennis career from the time of her move to Florida at the age of six -- and Williams caught her attention early on.

Sharapova recalls surreptitiously watching Serena and her sister Venus play during a visit to the Florida academy where she trained -- unwilling even then to "put myself in the position of worshiping them, looking up, being a fan."

Tensions between Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion who returned to competition in April after a 15-month doping ban, and 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams -- who gave birth to a daughter this month -- have sometimes spilled over into public spats.

Sharapova ponders the reasons, wondering if the antagonism between them has perhaps driven each to excellence.

"Maybe that's better than being friends," she writes, adding: "Someday, when all this is in our past, maybe we'll become friends. Or not. You never can tell."

Maria Sharapova dines with pals following US Open loss

(9/12/17) Maria Sharapova didn’t sulk about her US Open loss for long.

The disgraced tennis player was spotted dining with two friends, a male and a female, at Estiatorio Milos in New York City Saturday night, a source told Page Six. Sharapova, 30, kept it casual in a camel sweater, black pants, a white collared shirt and white Nike sneakers. The trio arrived around 8 p.m. and sat near the restaurant’s wine cellar.

Later on, two additional friends joined the trio. At the end of their night out, Sharapova treated her friends and styling team by paying the bill for their pricey night at the gourmet restaurant.

Sharapova returned to the US Open earlier this month after a 15-month ban for doping. Latvian tennis pro Anastasija Sevastova, 27, defeated Sharapova in three sets.

The Russian tennis player must have taken a cue from Roger Federer, who, following his crushing loss at the US Open, had lunch with Bill Gates at Le Bilboquet Friday.

Sharapova felt 'tricked, trapped' by failed drugs test

(9/10/17) Maria Sharapova felt "trapped" and "tricked" after learning she had failed a drugs test for taking the banned substance meldonium.

The former world number one tested positive at the 2016 Australian Open and was initially banned until January 2018.

However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced the two-year suspension to 15 months after ruling that she was taking meldonium – which had only been added to WADA's prohibited list at the start of 2016 – for medical purposes and not to enhance performance.

Sharapova returned to the WTA Tour in April and played at her first major tournament since her ban at the US Open, where she reached the fourth round.

The five-time grand slam champion said she was making plans for her retirement before she received news of her failed test.

Writing in her autobiography 'Unstoppable, by Maria Sharapova', an excerpt of which was published in The Guardian, she wrote: "I was imagining my retirement in the winter of 2015. I'd play through the winter and spring, appear at the Olympics in Rio, then begin my last professional season, with my book published just before the 2017 US Open. I’d tell my story and say goodbye.

"The 2016 season began at the Australian Open. Serena Williams beat me in the quarter-finals. It felt like a decent start to my 12th pro season. But, as sometimes happens in nightmares, what felt like the beginning turned out to be the end.

"A few weeks later, when I was back in LA, training, I got a funny-looking email. It was from the International Tennis Federation. As I read, my heart started to pound.

"It said the urine sample I had given in Australia had come back positive. In other words, and I had to read this again and again to make sure I was not hallucinating, I had failed the drug test. How? What the hell could it be?

"I took nothing new, nothing that was not legal and prescribed by a doctor. It was called meldonium. OK, obviously this was a mistake. Who had ever heard of that? I Googled it, just to make sure.

"Then I understood. I knew meldonium as Mildronate, the brand name. It was a supplement I'd been taking for 10 years. It's an over-the-counter supplement in Russia, so common that you don't think of it as a drug, let alone a performance-enhancing one.

"I'd first been told to take it when I was 18 and getting sick a lot; I had an issue with irregular heartbeats. For seven years, I had written confirmation that all the supplements I was taking, including Mildronate, were permissible.

"As of January 2016, meldonium was included in a catalogue of banned substances that the ITF sent out to players. It was viewable by clicking through a series of links in an email. I never followed those links, and didn't ask any of my team to.

"That was my mistake. But the ITF didn't draw any attention to the fact that they were suddenly banning a supplement that was being legally used by millions of people. That was their mistake.

"I felt trapped, tricked, but I figured all I had to do was explain myself. Meldonium had been banned for four weeks. At worst, I had inadvertently been in violation of the ban for less than 28 days.

"But I soon realised I was running into a brick wall. If I failed to win my case, I could be banned for up to four years. It would be the end of my career."

The View – ABC - Appearance

(9/7/17) The View – ABC

Tuesday, September 12

Maria Sharapova (author, “Unstoppable: My Life So Far”)

The Daily Show - Appearance

(9/6/17) THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH, Comedy Central

Tuesday 9/12: Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova’s U.S. Open run ends in fourth round

(9/3/17) Maybe this was just one three-setter too many for Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova tried a bit of everything, even resorting to switching over her racket to hit a few lefty shots. Still, the five-time major champion could not quite keep her Grand Slam comeback from a doping suspension going, losing in the fourth round of the U.S. Open to 16th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday.

"Look, three-set matches are challenging . I love being part of them. There’s an element of concentration, focus, physicality that goes into all of it. And you have to put it all together. Yeah, you just have to get through it," Sharapova said. "There’s no doubt that not playing those matches certainly cost me today. I did feel like I was thinking a little bit too much and not playing by instinct."

This was the third time in her four matches that Sharapova went the distance and she faded down the stretch, while also dealing with a blister on her right hand that was treated and taped by a trainer in the final set. Sharapova’s miscues kept closing exchanges, and she dropped 13 of the first 14 points in that set.

The 30-year-old Russian finished with 51 unforced errors, compared to 14 for Sevastova.

"It’s been a really great ride," Sharapova said.

"Ultimately, I can take a lot from this week," she continued. "It’s great to get that major out of the way. It was an incredible opportunity. I’m very thankful for the opportunity."

Sharapova’s exit leaves Venus Williams as the only past U.S. Open champion in the women’s field . The 37-year-old Williams, who won the title in 2000 and 2001, got to the quarterfinals by beating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Next for Williams will be a showdown against No. 3 Garbine Muguruza or No. 13 Petra Kvitova, who were scheduled to face each other Sunday night. Muguruza beat Williams in the Wimbledon final in July; Kvitova owns two trophies from the All England Club.

Sharapova hadn’t played in a major tournament since the Australian Open in January 2016, when she tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium. She served a 15-month ban for that, returning to the tour this April with a ranking too low to get into Grand Slam events.

The French Open denied her a wild-card invitation, then she planned to try to qualify for Wimbledon before pulling out because of an injured left leg.

But she was able to enter the U.S. Open thanks to a wild card from the U.S. Tennis Association, which then proceeded to put its 2006 champion in Arthur Ashe Stadium every time she played over the past week, drawing strong support from spectators — and criticism from another former No. 1-ranked woman, Caroline Wozniacki.

On Day 1 of the tournament, Sharapova won a three-set thriller under the lights against No. 2 seed Simona Halep.

"Just competing, you know, being in that competitive environment — that’s what I missed," Sharapova said. "You can’t replicate that anywhere, especially at a Grand Slam. So … Monday night was a special night for me. I will always remember it."

This time, Sevastova made Sharapova run a lot by pulling her forward with drop shots or tight angles, then would often deposit follow-up strokes into open spaces. On one point won by Sharapova in the second set, she twice tracked down lobs that she got back over the net by hitting the ball left-handed.

But she could not sustain enough strong play, and Sevastova reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.

"I allowed the match to become physical," Sharapova said about the late-going. "I don’t think I played as aggressive or was stepping in as much as I did in the first set."

Sevastova will face unseeded American Sloane Stephens, who reached her first quarterfinal in New York by eliminating No. 30 Julia Goerges 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Stephens has won 12 of her past 14 matches, a remarkable run for someone who was off the tour for 11 months because of foot surgery in January.

Earlier Sunday, 18-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov’s entertaining stay ended with a 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3) loss to 12th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain. In the quarters, Carreno Busta will play No. 29 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.

Shapovalov was trying to become the youngest male quarterfinalist at Flushing Meadows since Andre Agassi in 1988, but he wasted a 5-2 lead and three set points in the opener, and finished with 55 unforced errors.

"Honestly, it was so much fun to be part of that atmosphere and the match and this whole two weeks," Shapovalov said. "You know, it’s another life-changing event for me."

Women main focus on Arthur Ashe on Sunday

(9/2/17) Women's tennis's biggest names still remaining at the U.S. Open take center stage on Sunday with grand slam winners Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova all appearing on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Even with forecasters predicting rain, the show will go on under the retractable roof with Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov and Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta providing the opening act before three successive women's matches.

Despite criticism, Sharapova will be back on Arthur Ashe for her fourth successive match where she will face Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova for a spot in the quarter-finals

Playing her first grand slam since returning from a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova has enjoyed wild fan support every time she steps on to the court but not everyone is happy to see the five-time winner back.

Fifth seeded Caroline Wozniacki criticized U.S. Open organizers for putting her on an outside court in her second round loss while Sharapova soaked up the applause on Arthur Ashe.

One of the biggest draws in tennis, Sharapova has played to sellout crowds of 23,771 every match and the Russian wildcard has been unapologetic, delivering Wozniacki a stinging rebuke.

"I'm in the fourth round. I'm not sure where she (Wozniacki) is," shot back Sharapova, adding she would be happy to play in parking lot if that is where she was scheduled.

The most intriguing clash, however, may be the last of the women's matches with Wimbledon champion and third seed Muguruza facing double Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova.

The 13th seeded Czech is continuing to make her way back from a career-threatening hand injury sustained when she was stabbed in the hand by an intruder in her home last year.

Ninth seeded Williams, a twice U.S. Open champion and a crowd favorite for almost two decades, takes on Spanish veteran Carla Suarez Navarro in the final women's match on the main showcourt.

Sam Querrey, the last American hope in the men's draw, then wraps up singles action on the main court when he plays German 23rd seed Mischa Zverev.

I'd play on a parking lot, says Sharapova

(9/2/17) Maria Sharapova has shrugged off Caroline Wozniacki's criticism of U.S. Open organizers for giving the Russian center court billing in her return to grand slam tennis after a doping ban.

Defeated by Ekaterina Makarova on an outside court in the second round, former world number one Wozniacki lashed organizers for scheduling Sharapova at Arthur Ashe Stadium in her opening matches.

Sharapova, who returned from a 15-month ban in April, was handed a wildcard for the year's final grand slam and made her third consecutive appearance in the main stadium on Friday, beating American teenager Sofia Kenin 7-5 6-2 to reach the fourth round.

"With regards to scheduling, as you know, I don't make the schedule," Sharapova told reporters.

"I'm a pretty big competitor. If you put me out in the parking lot of Queens in New York City, I'm happy to play there.

"That's not what matters to me. All that matters to me is I'm in the fourth round. Yeah, I'm not sure where she is."

The 2006 U.S. Open champion has been warmly embraced at Flushing Meadows, playing to standing ovations and raucous cheers from sellout crowds.

She will play Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova for a place in the quarter-finals.

Sharapova swats away Wozniacki’s U.S. Open court complaint

(9/2/17) Maria Sharapova doesn’t care where she plays at the U.S. Open, only that she’s still playing.

Sharapova responded Friday to comments from Caroline Wozniacki, who complained after she was eliminated that Sharapova was scheduled for Arthur Ashe Stadium while she played on an outer court.

"That’s not what matters to me," Sharapova said following her 7-5, 6-2 victory over American Sofia Kenin. "All that matters to me is I’m in the fourth round. I’m not sure where she is."

Sharapova, given a wild card by the U.S. Tennis Association into her first Grand Slam tournament since a 15-month doping ban, has played all three matches on the main court.

Wozniacki, the No. 5 seed, said she thought that was a poor example following her second-round defeat Wednesday in a match that was scheduled for one outside court and eventually moved to another late in the day.

"When you look on centre court, I understand completely the business side of things and everything, but someone who comes back from a drug sentence and performance-enhancing drugs and then all of a sudden gets to play every single match on centre court, I think that’s a questionable thing to do," Wozniacki told Ekstrabladet TV of Denmark.

Ashe is usually reserved for the top players. Sharapova is a five-time Grand Slam champion, but she is unseeded here with a ranking that has tumbled to No. 146 following her suspension.

"With regards to scheduling, as you know, I don’t make the schedule," Sharapova said. "I’m a pretty big competitor. If you put me out in a parking lot of Queens in New York City, I’m happy to play there."

Sharapova battles past Kenin to reach fourth round in New York

(9/1/17) Maria Sharapova's mix of grit and power were enough to see off American teenager Sofia Kenin 7-5 6-2 in the third round of the U.S. Open on Friday.

Sharapova, who made her competitive comeback in April after a 15-month ban following a positive test for meldonium, battled through the first two rounds and it seemed that she would also struggle against the 18-year-old Kenin.

Hitting winners and unforced errors in almost equal measure in the opening set, the former world number one however, dug deep to take the advantage.

Kenin's tank was empty in the second set and Sharapova, who next faces Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova, opened up a 3-0 lead and ended the contest on the first match point when the American sent a backhand wide.

"We had never faced each other and she came out having nothing to lose and it's always dangerous so I'm happy I went through," said Sharapova, who won her only U.S. Open title in 2006.

Sporting a leather-collared black dress encrusted with crystal, Sharapova made a rock star entrance on a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium to close the night session.

However, she made nine unforced errors in the first three games, which continued throughout the first set but she broke in the 12th game when Kenin could not retrieve a powerful flat forehand and she then raced through the second set.

It was a relief for Sharapova after she had to endure two three-set matches to reach the third round.

"Coming into this match playing two three-setters, I'm just happy I got it done in two. Give my body a little bit of a break," she said.

"I took a day off yesterday just as a prevention.

"I did not see the ball too well at the beginning of the match, I wasn't getting the shots that I wanted ... but got better as the match went on."

American Kenin faces resurgent Sharapova at U.S. Open

(9/1/17) Eighteen-year-old American Sofia Kenin will look to put an end to Russian Maria Sharapova's return to grand slam play when they meet for the first time under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday night.

Sharapova is still looking to shake off the rust that came while serving a 15-month doping ban, but looked solid during the biggest moments of her first two matches.

Kenin will be one of five Americans in action to kick off the Labor Day weekend on Friday, all of who can expect a warm reception from the vocal New York crowd.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Venus Williams will battle Maria Sakkari of Greece in the morning. Her big-serving countryman John Isner will kick off the night session on Arthur Ashe.

Over on Louis Armstrong Stadium, 24-year-old American Sloane Stephens will continue to pursue her first grand slam victory when she faces Ashleigh Barty of Australia.

Sam Querrey will look to end a grand slam drought that dates back to 2003 on the American men's side when he battles Radu Albot of Moldova.

Rising Canadian 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov, who played through qualifiers to enter into the tournament, will attempt to dispatch 22-year-old Brit Kyle Edmund.

Sharapova, Federer embrace New York state of mind

(9/1/17) Roger Federer has conquered virtually everything in his two decades on tour but even the greatest tennis player of all time can't beat New York's notorious traffic snarl-ups.

The US Open, where the Swiss star has been champion on five occasions, is staged in the New York borough of Queen's, across the East River from glamorous Manhattan, where players and media stay for the fortnight.

However, the 10-mile journey can often take an hour or more during the working week.

It's one of the many challenges, on and off the court, which reinforce the city's reputation as no place for shrinking violets.

Federer has found one way of making the tournament come to him by practicing on public courts in Central Park.

"I was like, ‘Yeah, anything that doesn't make me drive very long,'" said Federer.

Fellow superstar Maria Sharapova, never one short of confidence, admits that when she first saw the city of 8.5 million souls, she hated it.

"When I first came to New York I was intimidated by the noise, the traffic, the people. But now I love it," said the Russian star who was 2006 champion at the US Open.

The feeling appears to be mutual.

When Sharapova played her first Grand Slam match since the end of her 15-month doping ban on the 24,000-capacity Arthur Ashe stadium on Monday, she wore a black dress, dotted with Swarovski crystals.

"It's prime time baby!" said Sharapova.

The Ashe stadium, the largest tennis venue in the world, can be a constant cauldron of noise.

At night, the din is ratcheted up with music and commercials thumping out during changeovers while fans chat and fidget, usually on their way back from the bars around the sprawling venue.

"It's intimidating, it's so big, there's so much going on. The screens are working during the points. Yeah, there's a lot of people moving and talking. It's not easy to play in," said Canadian 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov.

Shapovalov even interacted with a spectator who was merrily enjoying his evening out.

"I noticed a couple of guys had a little bit too much to drink. I mean, some of them were standing and, like, just talking to me as if we're buddies.

"I was up a break in one game, I think it was probably 40-15, I just miss a backhand. He's like, 'Ah, no.' I'm like, 'Don't worry, man, I got this.'"

The noise on Ashe is always impossible to ignore, although it wasn't to everyone's taste on Tuesday when the $150 million roof was shut all day as torrential rain washed away most of the programme.

With fans happily chatting away, the sound turned the arena into a giant echo chamber, much to the irritation of Rafael Nadal

"I understand it's a show, but under the roof we need to be a little bit more strict about the noise," said the world number one, a two-time champion at the tournament.

Most players who experience Ashe insist that you have to get the crowd on your side -- otherwise you are doomed.

"It's hard to beat a New York crowd when they're for you -- it's a lot to go against," said CoCo Vandeweghe of the United States.

Shapovalov, Sharapova set to share Arthur Ashe spotlight

(9/1/17) Denis Shapovalov may not be old enough to drink in New York but is quickly becoming the toast of the Big Apple and the 18-year-old Canadian will again have a chance to light up the U.S. Open when he takes on Briton Kyle Edmund.

After knocking off eighth seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the Canadian giant killer returns to the Arthur Ashe Stadium court chasing a place in the fourth round.

Shapovalov's hit list includes back-to-back wins over U.S. Open champions Rafa Nadal and Juan Martin De Potro at the recent Rogers Cup in Montreal, and the Canadian will now try to add the 42nd ranked Edmund to his list of scalps.

Another of the tennis young guns in Croatia's Borna Coric, who took down fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the second round, finds 28th seeded South African Kevin Anderson standing between him and a fourth round berth.

Against some criticism, Maria Sharapova will be back on Arthur Ashe for the third straight match where she will face American wild card Sofia Kenin.

Playing her first grand slam since returning from a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova has enjoyed wild fan support every time she steps on to the court but not everyone is happy to see the five-time winner back in action.

Fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki ripped U.S. Open organizers for putting her on an outside court while Sharapova soaked up the applause on Arthur Ashe.

"When you look at center court, and I understand completely the business side of things, but someone who comes back from a drugs sentence, performance-enhancing drugs, and then all of a

sudden gets to play every single match on center court, I think that's a questionable thing to do," said Wozniacki. "It doesn't set a good example."

There will be no complaints from the home crowd about seeing ninth seed Venus Williams or 10th seed John Isner on the Arthur Ashe stage.

Williams, a twice U.S. Open champion, takes on Greece's Maria Sakkari before turning over the spotlight to the big-hitting Isner, who goes up against Germany's 23rd seed Mischa Zverev.

At the US Open, Sharapova sniping practically a sport itself

(8/31/17) Listen to the crowds, and Maria Sharapova seems as popular as ever.

Listen to the competitors, and it's clear she hasn't been welcomed back with open arms.

Tennis isn't the only game going on at the U.S. Open, where complaining about Sharapova has become practically a sport itself.

''Everyone has their own opinion,'' No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina said Thursday.

And they aren't shy about sharing it.

Some rivals don't like that she keeps getting to play on Arthur Ashe Stadium - and guess where she's headed again Friday night?

''When you look on center court, I understand completely the business side of things and everything, but someone who comes back from a drug sentence and performance-enhancing drugs and then all of a sudden gets to play every single match on center court, I think that's a questionable thing to do,'' No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki told Ekstrabladet TV of Denmark after losing on an outside court Wednesday night.

''I think it doesn't set a good example.''

Others don't like that Sharapova's even here at all.

The Russian required a wild card to get into the tournament because of her low ranking and the U.S. Tennis Association was happy to provide it. That's what the organization has traditionally done for its former champions in need, and Sharapova won the event in 2006.

But this was different. She wasn't an injured veteran, or an up-and-coming youngster. Her ranking fell because she'd been suspended for doping, a cheat in the eyes of some peers.

Give her spot to someone else, they felt.

''Wild cards are appointed by the USTA. I can't say I agree. I wish it was an American instead, selfishly, because it is a USA tournament,'' American CoCo Vandeweghe said.

''I know from receiving a wild card here, it can be a huge platform to kind of progress through maybe a developing junior or someone that's coming back from injury or, you know, just somebody that's on the cusp, next American out that has an opportunity to kind of help their own ranking.''

But there's no young player, American or otherwise, who has Sharapova's box office appeal.

She's a five-time Grand Slam champion who hits with force and dresses with flair. People want to see her from their seats or on their screens, whether she's ranked No. 1 or 100.

''Tournament directors, people around, they would love to watch her play,'' former U.S. Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova said. ''You can see after her first match how the crowd welcomed her back.''

Sharapova beat No. 2 Simona Halep that night in her first Grand Slam match in 16 months and believed that had ended the sniping about her situation.

''I think with the way that I played Monday night, I don't think there are any more questions,'' she said.

Turns out, they were only just beginning.

Asked about Sharapova, Eugenie Bouchard replied that her thoughts were already public. In case anyone forgot what they were, she called Sharapova a ''cheater'' earlier this year when her suspension ended.

Others are more forgiving. The heart drug meldonium had only recently been placed on the banned list when Sharapova tested positive for it at the 2016 Australian Open, and Kuznetsova said Sharapova paid the price for her mistake.

''She did her time. I think now it has to be over, the talk,'' Kuznetsova said.

It probably won't, though.

Despite what she's done in the past, she's just a 146th-ranked wild card now, not the kind of player who gets unlimited access to the most exclusive real estate on the property. Yet she'll be on center court for the third time in three matches Friday when she faces American Sofia Kenin in the second night match on Ashe.

Win that one, and she'll be in another featured match during Labor Day weekend. Then there would be plenty more time to talk about her.

''She's here,'' No. 25 seed Daria Gavrilova said. ''Can't do anything about it.''

Caroline Wozniacki: It's unacceptable that I am on Court 5 while Maria Sharapova gets to play on Centre

(8/31/17) The ill-feeling between two of tennis’s leading women is only likely to deepen after Caroline Wozniacki objected to the way that a doping offender - Maria Sharapova - has been given plum spots on Arthur Ashe Stadium for her first two matches at the US Open.

Fifth seed Wozniacki was originally shunted out to Court 5 for her own second-round match on Wednesday, before a late shift moved her and her opponent Ekaterina Makarova to Court 17. And after losing the match by a 6-2, 6-7, 6-1 margin, Wozniacki complained that Sharapova had been granted preferential treatment.

“Putting out a schedule where the No. 5 is playing on Court 5, fifth match on after 11pm, I think that’s unacceptable,” Wozniacki said afterwards.

“And when you look on Centre Court – I understand completely the business side of things – but someone who comes back from a drugs sentence, performance-enhancing drugs, and all of a sudden gets to play every single match on Centre Court, I think that’s a questionable thing to do.”

Wednesday’s schedule had been an unusually difficult one to compile, because the backlog created by Tuesday’s persistent rain required no fewer than 87 matches to be completed in the day. Sharapova was scheduled third on Arthur Ashe Stadium against Timea Babos, and overcame a slow start to win 6-7, 6-4, 6-1.

Wozniacki was upset at the courts she was given Credit: AP

“I think it doesn’t set a good example,” said Wozniacki, “and I think someone who has fought their way back from injury and is five in the world deserves to play on a bigger court than Court No. 5. I think they should probably look into what they need to do in the future.”

This outburst has not come out of the blue. Wozniacki, who is a close friend of Sharapova’s old rival Serena Williams, has long been critical of the way many tournament directors – and even the bosses of the Women’s Tennis Association itself - have welcomed Sharapova back to the tour.

"I think it's disrespectful to other players and the WTA," she said in March, when news emerged that Sharapova would make her comeback in Stuttgart, at a tournament which started two days before the end of the doping ban. “Obviously the rules are twisted and turned in favour of who wants to do what.”

A few weeks later, Sharapova’s agent Max Eisenbud hit back in an unsolicited email to the American tennis writer Ben Rothenberg in which he called Wozniacki – along with the equally outspoken Agnieszka Radwanska - a “journeyman” and suggested that she wanted to keep Sharapova out of tournaments in order to boost her own chances.

Sharapova feels the love at the U.S. Open

(8/31/17) Maria Sharapova has been inspired by the reaction from fans, and felt the respect from other players, since coming back from her 15-month doping ban, the Russian told reporters following her second-round victory at the U.S. Open on Wednesday.

"I've had an amazing reaction from fans since I've been back and that's been very special. I mean, I felt it while I was away. I felt it in a real presence since I've been back," she said.

"It's a very special feeling."

Sharapova won an electric three-setter against world number two Simona Halep on Monday to get the tournament off to a thrilling start.

Asked if she was at peace with fellow players and fans who were disappointed that she was found to be using meldonium after it had been added to the list of banned substances, she was blunt.

"With the way that I played Monday night, I don't think there are any more questions," she said.

Sharapova has maintained that she was unaware of the policy change regarding the drug, which she had been taking for years before it was moved to the banned list in 2016.

In addition to fan support, Sharapova said she feels the respect of other players.

"I definitely feel the respect from the athletes. Certainly when I play against them, in terms of the level they play with," she said.

"That's important to me. I think from a respect level, when you're able to respect your rivals and compatriots, that's really important, and I feel that."

The 30-year-old followed up Monday's big win with a come-from-behind victory over Hungarian Timea Babos 6-7(4) 6-4 6-1 on Wednesday.

Next up for Sharapova is a third-round meeting with American Sofia Kenin on Friday.

Mats Point: Never-say-die Sharapova is a rock star

(8/31/17) Maria Sharapova did not just reach the third round of the U.S. Open on Wednesday, she also showed that she is a rock star who never disappoints her fans, according to former world number one Mats Wilander.

The Russian, back on the grand slam scene for the first time since she returned from a 15-month doping ban in April, beat Hungary's Timea Babos 6-7(4) 6-4 6-1 on Arthur Ashe Stadium despite playing below her best.

"The saying 'the heart of a champion' was invented for her," Wilander, who is at the U.S. as an analyst for Eurosport, said in a daily chat with Reuters.

"She does not have a mental meltdown, it's amazing. She keeps hanging in, hanging in even if she's not playing well and expectations are through the roof for the rest of the people.

"She could easily have let go in the second set but as soon as she turns the second set around it's over."

Sharapova saved two break points to hold for 3-3 in the second set and after that won nine of the 11 remaining games and Wilander said her drive was key to her success.

"It's not enough to be a good competitor. Good competitors, they want to win. But with her you have the feeling she needs to win," he said.

"Today was another typical Maria Sharapova performance. She's been like that throughout her career. The great champions are not always those who have won the most, the great champions become great champions when people have expectations.

"Great champions always deliver. What people come to see, they give it to them.

"They don't come to see Sharapova win, they come to see Sharapova because they know they're going to get their absolute best fight.

"She delivers every single time. That's talent. She's a rock star."

Maria Sharapova versus Timea Babos: match stats

(8/31/17) The following are the key statistics from Russian Maria Sharapova's 6-7(4) 6-4 6-1 second-round victory over Hungarian Timea Babos at the U.S. Open on Wednesday.

Sharapova Babos

Aces 12 0

Double faults 6 1

Break points won 8/13 4/10

Winners 39 13

Net points won 7/10 6/9

Unforced errors 36 24

Total points won 108 84

Match time: Two hours and 19 minutes

Sharapova sees off Babos to extend New York stay

(8/31/17) Maria Sharapova showed she was willing to extend her grand slam comeback when the former world number one defeated Hungary's Timea Babos 6-7(4) 6-4 6-1 on Wednesday to advance to the U.S. Open third round.

The Russian, in her first appearance at a major since she returned from a 15-month doping ban in April, did not have the same inspiration that helped her beat world number two Simona Halep in the opening round but her willpower was enough.

Sharapova, who was granted a wildcard entry to the tournament, made too many unforced errors in a scrappy first set that featured six breaks of serve.

Once she found her groove midway through the second set, however, the 30-year-old, sporting a pale peach pink crystal-encrusted dress, was too strong for Babos, who bowed out on the second match point when she sailed a backhand long, triggering a huge roar on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Maria Sharapova - Unstoppable: My Life So Far

(8/30/17) (Hardcover, Kindle, Audio) From Maria Sharapova, one of our fiercest female athletes, the captivating?and candid?story of her rise from nowhere to tennis stardom, and the unending fight to stay on top.

In 2004, in a stunning upset against the two-time defending champion Serena Williams, seventeen-year-old Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon, becoming an overnight sensation. Out of virtual anonymity, she launched herself onto the international stage. “Maria Mania” was born. Sharapova became a name and face recognizable worldwide. Her success would last: she went on to hold the number-one WTA ranking multiple times, to win four more Grand Slam tournaments, and to become one of the highest-grossing female athletes in the world.

And then?at perhaps the peak of her career?Sharapova came up against the toughest challenge yet: during the 2016 Australian Open, she was charged by the ITF with taking the banned substance meldonium, only recently added to the ITF’s list. The resulting suspension would keep her off the professional courts for fifteen months?a frighteningly long time for any athlete. The media suggested it might be fateful.

But Sharapova’s career has always been driven by her determination and by her dedication to hard work. Her story doesn’t begin with the 2004 Wimbledon championship, but years before, in a small Russian town, where as a five-year-old she played on drab neighborhood courts with precocious concentration. It begins when her father, convinced his daughter could be a star, risked everything to get them to Florida, that sacred land of tennis academies. It begins when the two arrived with only seven hundred dollars and knowing only a few words of English. From that, Sharapova scraped together one of the most influential sports careers in history.

Here, for the first time, is the whole story, and in her own words. Sharapova’s is an unforgettable saga of dedication and fortune. She brings us inside her pivotal matches and illuminates the relationships that have shaped her?with coaches, best friends, boyfriends, and Yuri, her coach, manager, father, and most dedicated fan, describing with honesty and affection their oft-scrutinized relationship. She writes frankly about the suspension. As Sharapova returns to the professional circuit, one thing is clear: the ambition to win that drove her from the public courts of Russia to the manicured lawns of Wimbledon has not diminished.

Sharapova’s Unstoppable is a powerful memoir, resonant in its depiction of the will to win?whatever the odds.

US Open glance: Sharapova, Venus, del Potro in action

(8/29/17) A quick look at the U.S. Open:


Maria Sharapova plays in the second round in Arthur Ashe Stadium against Timea Babos, trying to follow up on her upset of No. 2 seeded Simona Halep on Day 1.

Sharapova is a five-time major champion, including at the 2006 U.S. Open, and a former No. 1 who needed a wild card from the U.S. Tennis Association to get into the field after a 15-month doping suspension caused her ranking to plummet.

Babos, meanwhile, is ranked 59th and has only once made it as far as the third round at a Grand Slam tournament, getting to that stage at Flushing Meadows a year ago. She lost in the first round at the other three majors this year.

Other past major champions in action Wednesday include Venus Williams (against Oceane Dodin of France) and Juan Martin del Potro (against Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland).

The night's final match in Ashe is intriguing: No. 8 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, the runner-up at the 2008 Australian Open, against 18-year-old qualifier Denis Shapovalov of Canada. Shapovalov became the youngest man to reach a Masters semifinal, doing so this month at a hard-court tournament in Montreal.


Sunny. High of 81 degrees (27 Celsius).


Rain. High of 68 degrees (20 Celsius). All but nine matches were postponed to Wednesday.


Seeded winners in the men's first round: No. 1 Rafael Nadal.

Seeded winners in the women's first round: No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, No. 12 Jelena Ostapenko, No. 15 Madison Keys, No. 23 Barbora Strycova.


Seeded losers in the women's first round: No. 6 Angelique Kerber, No. 28 Lesia Tsurenko.


2 - Number of defending women's champions at the U.S. Open who have lost in the first round in the professional era, which began in 1968: Angelique Kerber on Tuesday and Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2005.


''All the noise stays inside and this is difficult.'' - Rafael Nadal, complaining about how loud it is in Arthur Ashe Stadium with the roof closed.

Maria Sharapova Podcast

(8/29/17) Mental Performance, Work-Life Balance, and the Rise to the Top – Maria Sharapova: Listen.

Sharapova gets down to business at US Open

(8/29/17) Maria Sharapova begins to explore just how well she can finish at the US Open on Wednesday after a successful and emotional Grand Slam comeback following a 15-month doping ban.

The 30-year-old Russian, who ousted second seed Simona Halep in her opener, faces Hungary's Timea Babos for the first time in the second round of the year's final Grand Slam tournament.

And with Halep and British seventh seed Johanna Konta both ousted already, Sharapova would not see another top-10 foe until potentially 10th-ranked Dominika Cibulkova in the quarter-finals even as three top-10 foes lurk as possible semi-final rivals.

The draw is wide open for a deep run by Sharapova despite her relative lack of matches and nagging injuries that allowed her only one hardcourt tuneup to the Open.

"From the moment that I've been here, I've really understood what this means to me, to be back and to be playing," Sharapova said.

"Not playing a lot of matches coming into this, it almost seemed like I had no right to (beat Halep). And I somehow did. I think that is what I'm most proud of."

Sharapova served a 15-month doping ban after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, returning in April to fanfare and controversy.

She missed Wimbledon with a thigh injury after being snubbed for a French Open wildcard but was given a wildcard into the US Open and wants to make the most of it.

"I was obviously extremely excited. I realized how long it had been since I played at the US Open," said Sharapova, who missed three of the prior four New York showdowns.

"Since I've come back, I feel like I'm on a team. I'm not just winning for myself, but I'm winning for everyone that has stood behind me. That is a very special feeling to have."

Applause and support from the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium bolstered her confidence and enthusiasm against Halep as she improved to 18-0 in night matches on the main court.

"So much. So special. I felt the support in the States," Sharapova said. "This is obviously a different scale, completely different caliber to anywhere you play in the world. It's electric."

Spanish third-seed Garbine Muguruza, the reigning Wimbledon champion, can reach the US Open third round for the first time by beating China's Duan Ying-Ying.

US ninth seed Venus Williams, this year's Wimbledon and Australian Open runner-up, meets France's Oceane Dodin while Danish fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki faces Russian Ekaterina Makarova.

On the men's side, German 20-year-old fourth seed Alexander Zverev, the top ranked player in his half of the draw, meets Croatian Borna Coric in the second round as he tries to crack the final eight at a major for the first time.

"You have to improve everything a little bit," Zverev said. "Obviously you can't be satisfied after a first-round win. I want to go deeper."

Sharapova sparkles on return to grand slam stage

(8/28/17) Maria Sharapova proved she will be someone to contend with for the U.S. Open crown after the Russian wild card outlasted second seed Simona Halep 6-4 4-6 6-3 on Monday, to get the year's final grand slam off to an electrifying start.

Still shaking off the rust from a 15-month doping ban and a string of nagging injuries, the 30-year-old Sharapova needed all her skill, determination and two hours and 44 minutes to snatch victory in front of a packed Arthur Ashe stadium.

The victory becomes the highlight of what has been a torturous comeback for the former world number one, who returned to tennis in April after being banned after testing positive for metabolic modulator meldonium at last year's Australian Open.

Her progress has been slowed by a thigh injury that forced her out of the Italian Open in May and more recently left arm issues in that took her out of the second round at Stanford earlier this month.

However, there was no hint of distress against an in-form Halep as she improved her record to 7-0 against the feisty Romanian in an opening round clash that was played with the intensity more befitting of a final.

Factbox: Maria Sharapova v Simona Halep - match stats

(8/28/17) Double faults 7 4

Break points won 5/22 4/10

Winners 60 15

Net points won 4/5 4/6

Unforced errors 64 14

Total points won 113 108

Match time: Two hours and 42 minutes

Sharapova edges No. 2 Halep at US Open in Grand Slam return

(8/28/17) So much about Maria Sharapova was the same as it ever was during her first Grand Slam match since a 15-month doping suspension: the shot-punctuating shrieks, the aggressive baseline style, the terrific returning, the sometimes-shaky serving.

Another familiar sight: The five-time major champion gutted out a victory.

Sharapova recovered after faltering midway through the match and emerged to beat No. 2-seeded Simona Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 at the U.S. Open on Monday night to reach the second round.

''This girl has a lot of grit and she's not going anywhere,'' Sharapova told the crowd in an on-court interview.

After leading by a set and 4-1 in the second, Sharapova showed some fatigue and rust, dropping five games in a row. But in the third, Sharapova regained control by going ahead 3-0, using her power to keep two-time French Open runner-up Halep under pressure.

Sharapova had not played at a Grand Slam tournament since January 2016, when she tested positive for the newly banned heart drug meldonium during the Australian Open. It was as if every one of Sharapova's winners - and she compiled 60, 45 more than Halep - was her way of declaring, ''I'm back!''

When a Halep shot sailed long to end the match after more than 2 1/2 hours, Sharapova dropped to her knees on court, then covered her face as her eyes welled with tears.

''I just thought that was another day, another opportunity, another match,'' Sharapova said. ''But this was so much more. I tried not to think about it.''

The 30-year-old Russian was allowed back on the tour this April, but she was denied a wild-card invitation for the French Open the next month. The U.S. Tennis Association did grant a wild card to Sharapova, who was once ranked No. 1 but is currently 146th.

That is 144 spots below Halep, who is among eight women that entered the U.S. Open with a chance to top the WTA rankings by tournament's end. The draw at Flushing Meadows randomly paired the two players, providing a buzz-generating matchup that managed to live up to the hype on Day 1 at the year's last Grand Slam tournament.

It was a tremendously entertaining and high-quality contest, more befitting a final than a first-rounder.

These two women have, indeed, faced off with a Grand Slam title at stake: Sharapova beat Halep in the 2014 French Open final, part of what is now her 7-0 head-to-head record in the matchup.

On Monday, they traded stinging shots, often with Sharapova - dressed in all black, from her visor to her dress that sparkled under the lights, to her socks and shoes - aiming to end exchanges and Halep hustling into place to extend them.

Points would last 10 or 12 strokes, or more, repeatedly leaving a sellout crowd of 23,771 in Arthur Ashe Stadium clapping and yelling and high-fiving, no matter which player won them. The chair umpire repeatedly admonished spectators to hush.

Halep blinked at the end of the hour-long first set, double-faulting to face a break point, then watching Sharapova punish a 71 mph second serve with a forehand return winner. That was Sharapova's sixth return winner; she would finish with 14, more than enough to counter her seven double-faults.

It was quickly 4-1 for Sharapova in the second set and she held a break point there to allow her to go up 5-1 and serve for the victory. But she couldn't convert it. Then, only then, did Sharapova struggle for a bit. Her footwork was a bit off. Her forehand lost its way. She would end up losing that game and the next four, too, as Halep managed to force a third set.

But with the outcome in the balance, Sharapova once again looked as if she had never been away. She raced ahead 3-0 in the third, then 5-2. And this time, she did not let Halep back in, improving to 11-0 in first-round matches in New York.

This was by far the day's most significant match, no matter happened later in the men's encounter in Ashe between No. 4 Alexander Zverev and qualifier Darian King of Barbados.

Earlier Monday, seven-time major champion Venus Williams picked up a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 victory against Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia, a 19-year-old qualifier who is ranked 135th, joining past Wimbledon winners Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova in the second round.

But No. 7 seed Johanna Konta, a Wimbledon semifinalist just last month, was bounced by 78th-ranked Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

''I don't take anything for granted,'' Konta said. ''I think it would be quite obnoxious of me to come in here expecting I have a right to be in second week.''

And in another surprise, 13th-seeded Jack Sock of the United States was eliminated 6-2, 7-6 (12), 1-6, 5-7, 6-4 by 73rd-ranked Jordan Thompson of Australia.

Sharapova-Halep match headlines Day one at the U.S. Open

(8/28/17) The 2017 U.S. Open is set to begin with near-perfect weather and a much-anticipated match.

That comes Monday night when No. 2-seeded Simona Halep takes on former No. 1 and five-time major champion Maria Sharapova, who was given a wild-card entry to the U.S. Open after returning from a 15-month doping ban. Halep is winless against Sharapova in six previous meetings.

Play begins in the day session in Arthur Ashe Stadium with Wimbledon champ Garbine Muguruza against American Varvara Lepchenko. The 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic is next up against aptly named Tennys Sandrgen of the U.S. And seven-time major champion Venus Williams plays Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia.

Other big names on Monday’s schedule include No. 4 Alexander Zverev, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and top American John Isner.

Sharapova vs. Halep at U.S. Open; Federer-Nadal could meet in semi

(8/25/17) Maria Sharapova’s first Grand Slam match in more than 1 1/2 years will come against No. 2-seeded Simona Halep at the U.S. Open.

Sharapova’s first-round matchup with two-time French Open runner-up Halep was set up by Friday’s draw, which also put Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the same side of the men’s bracket, meaning they could meet only in the semifinals.

The U.S. Tennis Association awarded a wild-card invitation to Sharapova, who is ranked only 147th after returning from a 15-month doping suspension in April, so she could have been randomly placed to face any other player.

Sharapova was kicked off the tour after testing positive for the newly banned drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

Her five major championships include the 2006 U.S. Open.

The year’s last Grand Slam tournament starts Monday.

Nadal is seeded No. 1 at Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2010 after returning to the ATP’s top ranking this week. Federer is seeded No. 3. They have played 37 head-to-head matches, including 12 at major tournaments — at least twice in a final — but never at Flushing Meadows in any round.

Federer beat Nadal in the Australian Open final in January. Nadal then won his 10th French Open trophy in June, and Federer won his eighth Wimbledon title in July.

Federer owns a record 19 Grand Slam championships. Nadal ranks second among men with 15.

The bottom half’s semifinal could be No. 2 Andy Murray vs. No. 4 Alexander Zverev.

The potential men’s quarterfinals could be Nadal against No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov, Federer against No. 6 Dominic Thiem, Murray against No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Zverev against No. 5 Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion.

Possible women’s quarterfinal matchups on the draw’s bottom half include Halep or Sharapova against No. 7 Johanna Konta of Britain, a semifinalist at Wimbledon; and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza against No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki or No. 9 Venus Williams, a seven-time major champion and the runner-up at the All England Club last month at age 37.

Williams’ sister, 23-time major champion Serena, is not playing in the U.S. Open because she is pregnant and expecting to give birth in September.

On the top half of the bracket, the quarterfinals could be No. 1 Karolina Pliskova against 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova; and defending champion Angelique Kerber or French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko against No. 4 Elina Svitolina or No. 15 Madison Keys of the United States.

Kerber beat Pliskova in last year’s final in New York and moved up to No. 1 in the rankings for the first time. But Kerber’s 2017 has been rough, including a first-round loss at the French Open, and she is seeded No. 6 at the U.S. Open.

The 30-year-old Sharapova was eligible to make her return to Grand Slam action at the French Open in May, but that country’s tennis federation declined to offer her a wild card. Sharapova then was going to try to qualify for Wimbledon in June, but she ended up skipping the grass-court portion of the season because of an injured left thigh.

Sharapova has been participating in tournaments via wild-card invitations, beginning on red clay at Stuttgart, Germany, in April.

Sharapova was 19 when she won her U.S. Open trophy. Two years before that, at 17, Sharapova won her first major title at Wimbledon. She has since completed a career Grand Slam.

John McEnroe on Maria

(8/25/17) Maria Sharapova got a wild-card entry into the U.S. Open main draw despite a ranking of No. 147 as a result of a 15-month doping ban that ended in April. She tested positive for a newly banned heart drug at the 2016 Australian Open. The French Open chose not to give her a wild card and she skipped Wimbledon because of a thigh injury.

''Her suspension ... was a lot harsher than almost any other suspension that I've been aware of in any other sports,'' he said. ''If (NFL players) get caught red-handed taking steroids, they're suspended for four games the first time.''

McEnroe says the 2006 U.S. Open champion is one to watch.

''She's someone who knows how to win,'' he said. ''I don't know where she is fitness-wise and emotionally. She's been through a lot, and obviously, a lot of it was self-imposed. But on a given day, she could beat anyone out there. No question.''

Questions abound as Sharapova returns to U.S. Open

(8/25/17) Maria Sharapova can expect a warm reception from fans in New York when she makes her grand slam return at the U.S. Open next week following a 15-month doping ban, but just how competitive she will be is hard to say, ESPN analyst Chris Evert said.

The former world number one, who returned to action in April after a 15-month ban, was awarded a main-draw wildcard for the tournament she won in 2006 after French officials denied her that same courtesy for the French Open earlier this year.

"The American crowd is going to be very respectful of Maria and I would think she will get a warm reception coming back," Evert, a winner of 18 majors during her career, said on a conference call this week.

"Most people think that she has paid her dues and it's time to get back on the circuit."

Sharapova tested positive for the drug meldonium in 2016, which had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned substances list in January of that year.

The 30-year-old Russian, a winner of five grand slam titles, said she was unaware of the change.

The bigger question is how her game will match up against a competitive women's field and whether the injuries that kept her out of the grasscourt season and parts of the hardcourt season have healed.

"She really had a great start this summer but was injury prone," Evert said.

Sharapova's U.S. Open preparations were disrupted by an arm injury suffered during a first-round win at the Stanford Classic earlier this month. She then withdrew from events in Toronto and Cincinnati as a precautionary measure before the final grand slam of the year.

"Lack of tournament play really wreaks havoc on your body. Not only physical but I'm sure mental and emotional as well," Evert said.

"So if it's a healthy Maria Sharapova, you can't put anything past her. She looked good two months ago so with a good draw, it's possible she gets to the second week."

American tennis great John McEnroe said the reaction from the notoriously vocal U.S. Open crowd to Sharapova will be "somewhat mixed," but said interest in her performance will be at an all-time high.

"She's obviously the biggest name in the draw so that's going to provide some interest. A lot of us are interested to see how she does, there's no question."

One-on-one with @MariaSharapova

(8/24/17) #USOpen Exclusive: one-on-one with @MariaSharapova at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center: Video.

Maria Sharapova Reveals What’s On Her Phone

(8/24/17) ( Number of contacts in phone: 439.

Number of unread emails: 0. My mind would be cluttered otherwise.

Most-liked photo in your Instagram feed: It’s probably a bikini picture if I had to guess. But I’m hoping it’s a tennis action shot!

Most-listened-to track on iTunes or Spotify: Right now it’s Kings of Leon’s “Muchacho.”

Strangest autocorrect mishap: When I type in my last name, it changes it to “Sugarpova,” which is actually [the name of] my candy company.

Craziest place you’ve ever lost your phone: I have never lost it. But the amount of screens I’ve cracked makes up for that.

Alarm settings: Don’t use the alarm. Early riser.

Biggest time-wasting app: GarageBand.

When do you feel compelled to charge your phone? [It’s always] 100%. Yes, that’s right: 100%. I consistently wear a battery case.

Are there times when you try to stay off your phone entirely? Always during practice or training.

Favorite fitness app: Nike+ Training Club App is the only one I’ve ever tried.

Cities listed in weather app: Sochi, Russia; New York City; Longboat Key, Florida; Manhattan Beach, California; Tokyo; Indian Wells, California.

Most recent Uber ride: Laurel Canyon to Manhattan Beach ($78).

Favorite podcasts: Lewis Howes’s School of Greatness; TED Radio Hour; The Tim Ferriss Show.

People you FaceTime most often: My mom and my best friend, Estelle.

App you wish someone would invent: Please don’t invent any more.

Sharapova determined to prove point on Slam return

(8/23/17) Former world number one Maria Sharapova makes her first Grand Slam appearance next week since serving a 15-month doping suspension, bringing renewed passion and resolve to the US Open.

The 30-year-old Russian was given a wildcard into the tournament by the US Tennis Association (USTA), a move critics complained about earlier in the season but another key step in the road back for the five-time Grand Slam winner.

"When it comes to tennis, good or bad -- there's really only one thing that I know for certain -- I've missed it," Sharapova wrote on the Players' Tribune website.

"Though these last two years have been tougher -— so much tougher -— than I ever could have anticipated... my passion for the game has never wavered. If anything, it has only grown stronger."

Sharapova was issued a two-year suspension after testing positive for the banned heart and blood boosting drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced the ban on appeal.

She said that she had taken it for several years and did not know it had been placed on the banned list at the start of 2016.

Sharapova made her return in April at Stuttgart, reaching the semi-finals as a wildcard, but such invitations sparked criticism from some WTA rivals, saying she should have to work her way back without such benefits, some suggesting a life ban.

"I'm aware of what many of my peers have said about me and how critical of me some of them have been," she wrote.

"If you're a human being with a normal, beating heart... I don't think that sort of thing will ever fully be possible to ignore."

Sharapova was refused a wildcard by French Open organizers and missed Wimbledon with a thigh injury, so the US Open will be her first Grand Slam event since last year's Australian Open.

Shaking off criticism after the French Open snub, Sharapova tweeted, "If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, everyday. No words, games or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams. And I have many."

Sharapova has missed three of the past four US Opens, her last visit ending in the 2014 fourth round.

The USTA defended its wildcard offer, saying, "Her suspension under the terms of the tennis anti-doping program was completed and therefore was not one of the factors weighed in our wildcard selection process."

"Consistent with past practice, a wildcard was provided to a past US champion who needed the wildcard for entry into the main draw."

Former world number one Sharapova won the 2006 US Open as well as Wimbledon in 2004, the 2008 Australian Open and the 2012 and 2014 French Opens.

"I'm sure this is a great moment for her to have an opportunity to be back to a place where she has done so well," seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams said.

- Sharapova plays catch-up -

Sharapova was bolstered by fans with "Welcome back Maria" signs in Germany and cheering support last month in Stanford, her first US match in more than two years.

"I feel like I just want to hug everyone and say thank you," Sharapova said.

Sharapova defeated American Jennifer Brady 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 in her Stanford opener but suffered a left forearm injury and has not played competitively since.

"I feel like I'm playing catch-up against everyone who has had a head start," she said of being hurt during US Open tuneup events.

Sharapova granted wild-card entry into US Open

(8/15/17) Maria Sharapova has been granted a wild-card invitation for the U.S. Open's main draw.

Sharapova is among eight women who were given entry into the 128-player field by the U.S. Tennis Association on Tuesday — and by far the most noteworthy.

The former No. 1-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including at the 2006 U.S. Open, will be participating in her first Grand Slam tournament in more than 1 1/2 years. Sharapova has not entered a major tournament since the Australian Open in January 2016, when she tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium.

That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April.

The U.S. Open starts in Flushing Meadows on Aug. 28.

Sharapova pulls out of Western and Southern Open

(8/12/17) An ongoing left arm injury has forced former world number one Maria Sharapova to withdraw from the Western and Southern Open.

With her eyes on the upcoming US Open at Flushing Meadows later this month, Sharapova announced her decision to pull out of the WTA Premier Five event in Cincinnati on Saturday.

Sharapova – back on Tour since April after serving a 15-month ban for doping – was handed a wildcard for the tournament and was due to face French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the opening round.

However, the five-time grand slam champion will skip Cincinnati, having sat out the Rogers Cup in Toronto following her withdrawal at the Bank of the West Classic.

"I arrived in Cincinnati yesterday eager to play. However, following the doctor’s advice on-site, as a precaution for the US Open, I am unfortunately withdrawing from the tournament with the left forearm injury I sustained in Stanford," Sharapova said.

"I want to thank the tournament for the wildcard opportunity and really look forward to competing here next year."

Sharapova made a comeback from an eight-week absence with a leg problem in her first-round win over Jennifer Brady in Stanford.

But an arm injury forced the Russian to pull out ahead of her scheduled round-two clash against Lesia Tsurenko, and she has not returned since.

Maria Sharapova out of Rogers Cup, Canada’s Andreescu in main draw

(8/3/17) Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova will miss next week’s Rogers Cup in Toronto due to an injury.

Organizers say she is suffering from "pain in her left forearm."

Toronto’s Bianca Andreescu will take Sharapova’s wild-card spot in the draw.

Sharapova is making a comeback following a 15-month doping ban.

Several players, including Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, have been critical of Sharapova and tournament organizers for giving her wild card entries. Due to her suspension, she is no longer ranked high enough to automatically qualify for main draws.

She is currently ranked 173rd in the world.

"I am so sorry to be missing Rogers Cup this year," Sharapova said in a statement. "I am so appreciative to the tournament for the wild card and my fans in Toronto for their support. I am disappointed that injury is keeping me from the tennis court once again, and I will work as hard as I can to return to the game I love as soon as possible."

The 30-year-old’s best result at the Rogers Cup came in 2009, when she advanced to the final.

Sharapova initially was given a two-year suspension after testing positive for the banned heart drug meldonium at last year’s Australian Open.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced the ban on appeal, ruling she bore "less than significant fault" in the case and she could not "be considered to be an intentional doper."

Sharapova had been taking meldonium for many years, but overlooked announcements by WADA that it added the drug to its banned list on Jan. 1, 2016.

Canadian Carol Zhao will take Andreescu’s spot in the qualifying tournament.

Sharapova withdraws from Stanford with left arm injury

(8/2/17) Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova withdrew from the WTA Bank of the West Classic just before her scheduled second-round match Wednesday with a left arm injury, tournament officials announced.

"We're sad to announce that @mariasharapova has withdrawn after doctor's advice regarding her left arm," a post on the tournament's Twitter feed said.

Sharapova played her first US match in more than two years on Monday, defeating American Jennifer Brady 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 in an opening-round match at the hardcourt event in Stanford, California.

The former world number one from Russia hadn't played in the US since March of 2015, before serving a 15-month doping suspension for the use of meldonium.

"I feel like I just want to hug everyone and say thank you," Sharapova told fans in a post-match interview. "It's my first match in the States in a really long time, and it's the closest thing to home for me."

Seventh-seeded Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko advanced by walkover as a result of wildcard entrant Sharapova's early exit.

The latest injury brings into question whether or not Sharapova will be fit in time for the US Open, which starts August 28, as well as for another key tuneup event in Cincinnati in two weeks for which Sharapova has also accepted a wildcard.

Sharapova, 30, returned to competition in April, but her comeback was disrupted by a hip injury that forced her to withdraw from Wimbledon qualifying.

Sharapova's ranking has fallen to 171 in the world.

"I feel like I'm playing catch-up against everyone who has had a head start," Sharapova said after her Monday match. "All that matters is that I keep playing."

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