COMMENT

Maria Sharapova is back on the court in Germany this morning — her first competitive tennis match since she was suspended for using a banned substance.

She's been granted a wildcard entry to the Grand Prix in Stuttgart. She needs one because of course she doesn't have a ranking given she's been out of competition. She's also got one in Madrid and Rome.

You might say, so what? She's done her time, it's time to welcome her back with open arms. I have two issues with that.

She's clearly getting special treatment. Instead of working her way back, she gets to swoop straight back into a big tournament, at the expense of a German player who hasn't been banned for doping. It's presumably thanks to the fact the tournament's naming sponsor, Porsche, is also one of her personal sponsors.

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For the tournament organisers, it must make commercial sense. She's a major drawcard and the controversy probably only helps audience ratings and ticket sales.

Caroline Wozniacki called the wildcard disrespectful. Roberta Vinci who she's playing today was similarly frank. You could argue of course they'd rather not have her there — their chances are better without her. But I think they have a point. Why does she deserve a red carpet ride?

But here's the thing that really gets me:

She's not actually remorseful or repentant — in fact she seems to think she's the victim. That the International Tennis Federation wanted to make an example of her.

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Just to remind you how we got here — Sharapova tested positive for meldonium — a substance that's used to increase blood flow for patients with angina and heart failure. Because of that function, it improves exercise capacity.

She had been taking it for 10 years, for other reasons she said. The drug isn't approved by the US FDA so it was prescribed by a Russian Doctor, even though she'd been living in the States for years with access to the best medical care money can buy.

To say it smelt fishy is a massive understatement, but she maintains it was an administrative mistake and when the Court of Arbitration cut her ban to 15 months it accepted she was taking it for medical reasons.

And so here she is, back on court, a defiant "accidental" doper.

We all love a good comeback story, and if she goes on to return to the number 1 spot, albeit in the absence of a pregnant Serena Williams, it will be an almighty comeback.

But I don't see it as redemption.

I do believe in second chances, but you fight your way back from the ground up, earn your ranking points back again. You don't get to step on the heads of others with unblemished records. And you own up, no poor me, no 'it's not my fault' — own it, apologise for it, and move on.

In the absence of real contrition, part of me will always think a little less of Maria Sharapova.