Is the week of April 24 shaping up to be the biggest yet on the WTA Tour this season?
All eyes will be on the German city of Stuttgart when Maria Sharapova makes her return after a 15-month suspension for testing positive to meldonium.
Tournament organisers have handed the former world No.1 a wildcard and announced they will hold her first round match until the Wednesday, the day her ban is lifted. It’s a move that has angered many top players, including Caroline Wozniacki and Barbora Strycova.
Sharapova’s long-time rival Serena Williams won’t be there – but her presence will still be felt that week, with the American guaranteed to return to world No.1 for a 317th week. It will be her eighth stint in the top position.
With Angelique Kerber’s loss in the Monterrey final today, it means the German will relinquish her No.1 ranking on April 24 when she loses her Stuttgart title points from 2016. Williams, who has not played since winning a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January, will then surpass Kerber at the top of the WTA rankings.
Yet Serena’s lead will be a mere 85 points, which means the world No.1 ranking will also be in play in Stuttgart – adding to what is already shaping up to be a very big tournament. Exciting times ahead!
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