With Sharapova playing once again, one top tennis player isn’t happy – Eugenie Bouchard. In fact, the current #59 player in the world thinks Sharapova not only should’ve have served her entire two year suspension, but also been banned for life.
“I don’t think that’s right,” Bouchard, who is competing at the Istanbul Cup this week, told Turkish broadcaster TRT World. “She is a cheater and so to me, I don’t think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport again. It’s so unfair to all the other players who do it the right way and are true.”
At one point, Bouchard was ranked as high as fifth in the world and was the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up. Sharapova, on the other hand, was once the number one player in the world and has won each of the Grand Slam tournaments.
The biggest difference between the two, outside of their on-court accolades, is that Bouchard has played a clean career, while Sharapova was suspended for using the banned substance meldonium.
Bouchard isn’t the only player to criticize the return of Sharapova either, as Simona Halep and Alize Cornet also chimed in.
“For the kids, for the young players, it is not OK to help with a wild card the player that was banned for doping,” Simona Halep, the fifth ranked player in the world, told the Toronto Star. “It is not about Maria Sharapova here, but it is about all the players that are found doped.”
“Generally speaking, I find it shameful that the WTA is promoting a player who tested positive after all. It’s normal that people talk about her, she’s an immense champion, but from there to promoting her return to such an extent . . . I find that unjust,” Alize Cornet, who is ranked 41st, said.
Sharapova returned to action this week, much to the disapproval of other players, and has already won a match. In her return on Wednesday, the 30-year-old won her opening match at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany. It’s one of a handful of tournaments that Sharapova has received wild card invitations to play in.
The former number one player also knows that the only person who can control her scenario is herself, and not the comments of her fellow players.
“I can’t control what people say and I never have,” the Russian said. “The only thing I can control is what I do out there and those are my words. I’m always prepared to walk the walk and I have and I’ve done that by winning five Grand Slams and being No. 1 in the world.”
Of course, Bouchard doesn’t think Sharapova should even have a slim chance to play in France.
“I think from the WTA it sends the wrong message to young kids: ‘Cheat and we will welcome you back with open arms.’ I don’t think that’s right and definitely she is not someone I can say I look up to anymore,” the Canadian said last week.
WTA CEO Steve Simon responded to the criticism by saying a suspension shouldn’t end Sharapova’s career.
“I don’t think a suspension should wipe out the career’s worth of work,” Simon said.
Despite the protests of many of her fellow players, Sharapova is back and comments from Bouchard or anyone else won’t do anything to change that. The only thing Bouchard and others could do really is consistently beat Sharapova so that she doesn’t win anything in her career, thus making kids think if you cheat, you won’t always have success.