Former number 1 tennis great Boris Becker believes Maria Sharapova has paid her dues and deserves a second chance when she returns to tennis in April at the end of her 15-month doping ban.
Sharapova, a five-times grand slam champion, failed a dope test for the drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open and was suspended for two years by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
The Russian’s ban was then cut by nine months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last October, meaning the Russian is free to return from April 26.
Becker, a three-times Wimbledon champion, said it was right that Sharapova was allowed to return to the sport and hopes her comeback will not cause problems in the locker room.
“In principle I am all for a second chance,” Becker told Reuters at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco.
“She (Sharapova) paid her dues, she was suspended for quite a long time. I don’t know about the reaction of the other players, it’s up to them.
“Everyone has their own choice. Hopefully the atmosphere (inside the locker room) will be good. We can move on and have good women’s champions.”
Sharapova, 29, had called the ITF’s original ruling “unfairly harsh” because she had not intentionally violated anti-doping rules.
Meldonium was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency list of banned substances only at the start of 2016 after mounting evidence it boosted blood flow and enhanced performance.