It was last year in March when Maria Sharapova called a press conference with the purpose of making a so-called important announcement. What followed stirred up a huge debate regarding the issues tennis is facing on a daily basis. During the press conference held in Los Angeles, Sharapova stunned everyone by announcing that she failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open.

The substance was Meldonium. Sharapova admitted to taking this particular medicine for years, a drug banned in the United States, but broadly available in Eastern Europe. Now, the former WTA world no.

1 has about 2 months left of her ban.

Sharapova will be back in April

Except for several exhibition tennis events, Sharapova kept herself out of the tennis sphere all this time. The 15-month punishment will expire in April, and the Russian will resume her professional tennis career. In April, the WTA circuit will be floating around Europe and its clay swing. For Sharapova, the only available choice is to get wild cards in order to compete. For the time being, she has no ranking status and she's not eligible to play any WTA event.

Considering how she contributed to women's tennis worldwide, the fact that the organizers of some WTA events chose to hand her invitations for playing is not surprising at all.

Along with Serena Williams, Sharapova is arguably one of the most prominent figures in women's tennis over the past decade.

Stuttgart and Madrid

A while ago, Sharapova's comeback was set to take place in Stuttgart, a WTA Premier event on clay. Today, one more WTA event was confirmed for the Russian. She clinched a wild card for the Mutua Madrid Open, a Premier Mandatory event also on clay.

Back in 2014, when she made her last major impact, Sharapova won this tournament and then took her 2nd French Open. Both finals were memorable matches against the Romanian rising star Simona Halep. Each time, Sharapova needed 3 sets to top the opponent.

For the event in Madrid, it'll be a great marketing move to have Sharapova in the main draw.

Last year, as the event rolled around, many of the top-seeded players were eliminated in the early stages -- even the final between Simona Halep and Dominika Cibulkova had many vacant seats.

For Sharapova, playing these 2 WTA events could work as a foundation for the summer swing on the North American hard court. For the grass season, she might as well get a wild card.