Roberta Vinci says she doesn't agree with the Russian's wildcard for the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart
Maria Sharapova completes her return to tennis this week after receiving a wildcard invitation to play at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart - and not everyone is thrilled.
The Russian is back on the court competitively after serving a 15-month doping ban. The 30-year-old tested positive for banned substance meldonium last year.
The ban was initially intended to run for two years, but was later reduced following an appeal in October to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
She now takes on Italy's Roberta Vinci ahead of their match on Wednesday. Speaking ahead of the match, Vinci questioned why Sharapova would be given a wildcard to return at the event.
"I don't agree about the wildcard here and about the wildcard in Rome and the other tournaments," she said on Monday.
"She's a great player and a person, I've got nothing against her. She paid for her mistake. I think she can return to play, but without any wildcards."
Roberta Vinci during her quarter-final match against Kristina Mladenovic at St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy in February. Image: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images
The 34-year-old isn't the only one to speak out about Sharapova receiving a wildcard for the tournament.
Last month, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki labelled Sharapova's wildcard entry into the Porsche Grand Prix as 'disrespectful' to other players.
"Obviously rules are twisted and turned in favour of who wants to do what," she said. "I think everyone deserves a second chance... but at the same time, I feel like when a player is banned for drugs, I think that someone should start from the bottom and fight their way back."
She added: "I think it's very questionable allowing - no matter who it is - a player that is still banned to play a tournament that week. From the tournament side, it's disrespectful to the other players and the WTA."
Sharapova has made an appearance on a tennis court since receiving her ban, at an exhibition match at the World Team Tennis charity event in Las Vegas.