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One of the special moments of the anniversary tournament is not just of a sporting nature. After a 15-month ban, superstar Maria Sharapova, the three-time winner in Stuttgart, will celebrate her comeback at the 40th Porsche Tennis Grand Prix – and the whole world will be watching.

She looked stunning. For her appearance in Moscow (“It’s really nice to be back”) at the start of February, Maria Sharapova decided, in keeping with the occasion, to transform the successful tennis player Maria Sharapova into the successful entrepreneur Maria Sharapova. She wore a truly amazing dress but not too overdone, high-necked but figure-hugging. The white checks looked kittenish on the blue fabric shining cheekily as if it was a fabric from a far-off time in the future. A well-chosen outfit as the focus was naturally on the future – the future of Sugarpova, the label of Maria’s slightly different sweets. Sugarpova also now makesing chocolate. Made solely of natural products, it is kosher and halal as the whole world population, no matter what sex or religion, has the right to a few more happy hormones. Framed by bars of chocolate and in good spirits, Maria told the reporter from the international Russian TV channel RT about her life in the past few months. How good the break has been for her and how nice it was to celebrate Christmas with her family. She talked of her mother’s problems about not knowing what to give to her Maria, who after all has everything, for her next birthday on 19 April, (“Go on, say it, I’ll be 30, no problem). And Maria went on to say how she, now a tennis player again and no longer a business woman, allayed her mother’s worries: “I’ve already got the nicest present. I’m getting my sport back.” 26 April is the day. After serving a 15-month ban, Maria Sharapova will step onto Centre Court in the Porsche Arena for her first-round match at the 40th Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. According to the preliminary order of play, at 6.30 in the evening. She will be the first player ever to be given a main draw wild card and then be monitored by the whole sports world right from the very first serve. Those that know her also know that the pressure will not bother her. Perhaps she even needs it, the unaccustomed situation. She says, “I could not be happier to have my first match back on tour at one of my favourite tournaments, I can't waitý to see all my great fans and to be back doing what I love. Maria Sharapova has already won the Stuttgart Grand Prix on three occasions. In doing so she was admired for her big fighting spirit and her almost scary mental strength. Now she is returning and despite the 15-month enforced break she will not be looking to exchange only a few pleasantries. She will also again play the eloquent entrepreneur and have her Sugarpova stand in the Sport & Lifestyle Village. She’s back. Madrid has already promised her a wild card. Should she quickly regain her old form, it will not take long before they become unnecessary. That the Sharapova show will restart in Stuttgart is seen positively by the experienced tournament director Markus Günthardt, “Her return in the Porsche Arena is a fabulous present for our fantastic spectators and is certain to be one of the sporting and emotional highlights of our anniversary tournament.” The WTA Tour has got its superstar back – and Maria Sharapova her tennis.

21/04/2017

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