Former champions Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharpova headline wildcards — WTA Cincinnati

Ruben Hill
July 28, 2017

"We anticipate the WTA's No. 1 ranking to be on the line during the Western & Southern Open, and adding players of this caliber will make the battle for the top spot even more compelling".

Maria Sharapova has vowed to bounce back from a tough two years that left her feeling vulnerable and hurt. She also participated in the Madrid Open where she lost in the second round, and retired injured from her second round match at the Rome Masters.

On the eve of Maria Sharapova's return to the WTA from a thigh injury next week in Stanford, the former No. 1 penned a piece in the Players' Tribune in which she talked about dealing with the fallout from her doping sentence, her support group, her fans, and her passion for tennis, which she says is stronger than ever.

"I have forgotten nothing, I know exactly what I have said, some players (...) but I always choose the way of wisdom in the face of criticism", said Sharapova, ensuring that it does not answer them, never by media interposed. "I don't think that sort of thing will ever fully be possible to ignore", Sharapova added.

"But at the same time ..."

"But at the same time I've always tried to keep a generous attitude towards critics in general". I've never wanted to respond to the people trashing me by trashing them back. I've always wanted to respond by showing grace - something I learned from my mom, one of the most graceful and elegant people I know. "And by showing them, by showing everyone, that taking the high road is a choice".

The tournament has undoubtedly used its wildcard places to help attract interest in the tournament, with Sharapova and Azarenka being two of the biggest stars on tour, and with Stephens and Vondrousova seen by many as being future Grand Slam winners.

Though Sharapova has shown no cracks in her armor, and is revered for being a wall of mental toughness, she tells readers that on the inside that well isn't almost as secure as it appears. "And the walls I've built around myself ... they aren't almost as impenetrable as people think".

Sharapova finishes by bringing the reader full circle. Azarenka won three titles early in 2016 before stepping away from the game and giving birth to her son, Leo, in December.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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