Maria Sharapova concluded her 15-month suspension for her positive test for Meldonium on Wednesday. The Russian was back on WTA courts in Stuttgart, Germany, where she defeated Roberta Vinci in straight sets 7-5, 6-3. The result will see Sharapova advance to the 2nd round where she will face Ekaterina Makarova, a player that defeated Agnieszka Radwanska in the first round of the Stuttgart tournament on Tuesday.

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Sharapova interviewed after her match

Sharapova's return has generated a lot of buzz in the media. Not surprisingly, she faced reporters after her victory over Roberta Vinci in a lengthy interview.

Eugenie Bouchard voices criticism of Sharapova

During the interview reporters were often congenial and respectful of Sharapova. However, she hasn't received respect from a lot of the competitors that she should be seeing on the court in the months ahead.

Maria Sharapova made her return on Wednesday (Image credit: cnn.com).
Maria Sharapova made her return on Wednesday (Image credit: cnn.com).

Eugenie Bouchard, the underachieving Canadian player, was critical of the WTA accepting Sharapova back.

“I don’t think that’s right,” Bouchard said of Sharapova's Wednesday return in Stuttgart. “She’s a cheater and so, to me, I don’t think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport again" (Bouchard qtd. by SportsNet writer David Singh).

According to Bouchard, allowing a cheater back into a sport is "Unfair to all these players who do it the right way and are true." Of course, a counterpoint to that is that Sharapova was suspended for a very long time, as her ban lasted over a year.

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That's a longer time than a lot of other athletes that have been suspended in the past.

Arguably Bouchard twisted things around a bit when she said "I think from the [Women's Tennis Association] it sends the wrong message to young kids: ‘Cheat and we’ll welcome you back with open arms.'" Arguably the message is that if you cheat you'll receive a lengthy suspension and only be welcomed back after you served it. Bouchard is like Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska, players that want Sharapova punished over-and-above the punishment that she has already served.

Makarova will likely play a tough match against Sharapova at this point in her comeback. However, it's not like Sharapova beat a slouch in the first round of Stuttgart as Vinci is a very dangerous player too. Anett Kontaveit also advanced in Sharapova's section, taking out French Open champion Garbine Muguruza. With the first round complete, Sharapova needs four more wins to claim a title, something that will mark her return to tour.

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