Where do you stand on Maria Sharapova?

I'll wager it's a question on the tip of your tongue. After all, there's not much else about, save some sailors charging about on two-legged speed machines and people pontificating on the really big questions, such as: Will the Lions really be any good?

So I throw out Sharapova, so to speak, for your consideration.

This is the Sharapova who copped a 15-month doping suspension for taking a banned drug meldonium, has never shown a shred of remorse or apology and now wants back, by the fastest route possible.


She has already received some helping hands up from tournament organisers in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome.

In the German event, Sharapova was beaten in the semifinals by Kristina Mladenkovic of France; then Canadian Eugenie Bouchard tipped her over in two sets in the second round, having poured forth her scorn towards Sharapova.

Add in a retirement, at 1-1 in the third set with Croat Mirjana Llucic-Baroni this week in Rome, and that's the sum total of her return.

There was a setback for Sharapova when the boss of the French Open said "non" on the grounds that it could not award a place in the main draw, or qualifying, to a player recently returned from a drug ban.

But England's Lawn Tennis Association, who run the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, a leadup to Wimbledon, have said "come on in Maria, here's a wildcard", which she's gratefully accepted, and agreed to play there again next year as part of the deal.

The world's 211th-ranked player had "paid the price" an LTA official said, before using commercial imperatives as the real reason for opening a door to Sharapova.

The event needs a boost, clashing as it does with the men's equivalent.

Sales tend to be weak although this time it has drawn eight of the world's top 10 ranked women, who are preparing for Wimbledon.

Our friend at the LTA, Michael Downey, admitted "some may question the moral compass of this decision".

Get away. Never.

Then he added the decision should mean more money to redeploy into playing tennis. There's the rub.

It's not expected Sharapova will get a wildcard into Wimbledon. Nor should she.

Sharapova is an example of a sportswoman, admittedly an occasionally brilliant one, with five Grand Slam titles, who simply marches to her own drum.

She has never made an attempt to befriend her fellow professionals. She runs a solo operation, so no sympathy from the locker room will be forthcoming any time soon.

I wouldn't have a bar of her. Then again, if she agreed to stop the shrieking decibels, maybe.

The problem is the total refusal to accept she did anything wrong from the time she tested positive at the Australian Open last year.

There are times when there's some merit in falling on your sword, up goes the hand, it's a fair cop guv, even if I didn't really understand what I was ingesting.

You might then fool some of the people.