Barbora Strycova fires warning at Maria Sharapova ahead of her return from suspension

Last June, former world number one Maria Sharapova was hit with a two-year ban after testing positive for meldonium at the Australian Open four months previously.

However, the Russian appealed the case and saw her suspension reduced to 15 months – which ends in just under four months’ time.

Sharapova will be given the chance to join the WTA Tour at Stuttgart when her ban ends, despite the tournament starting two days before.

Although she will be delighted to return to the courts next month, world number 20 Barbora Strycova has warned that her return could be met with a potential isolation fellow tennis players.

“I’m not her friend,” she said at the Miami Open this week. “I don’t think anyone is her friend on the tour. She doesn’t have [friends], I don’t think, because she doesn’t talk to anybody.”

Strycova was also subject of a failed drugs test, receiving a six-month doping ban before making her comeback at the same tournament back in 2013.

The decision to allow Sharapova to enter the competition once her ban reaches its end is the main reason for fellow players to turn on her, with Caroline Wozniacki the first to speak out on the matter, labelling the wildcard option as ‘disrespectful’.

Strycova explains why Sharapova has no friends

Strycova has also criticised the decision and also hinted that if she was at the same level as Sharapova when she received her ban, maybe she would have been handed a wildcard too.

“I think it’s not OK,” claimed Strycova.

“I think when you do something like this you have to be punished. But she is Maria and what can you do? I will not get p****d off about it. I’m a bit shocked actually with what is happening at the tournament in Stuttgart but I can’t change it so I won’t think about it.

“Of course it would have been nice to have wildcards when I came back but I’m not Sharapova. Nothing changed for her. She can play the same tournaments as me. It’s nothing against her, but for me it is against the rules.”

Sharapova makes her return to the courts on the 26th April and, if others share the same view as Strycova, it will undoubtedly be a different environment now to the one she left behind at the start of last year.

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