Sport

Craig Tiley says Maria Sharapova deserving of draw ceremony invite

Craig Tiley says Maria Sharapova deserving of draw ceremony invite”

Yesterday, the Russian doping offender returned to parade the women's singles trophy on the Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open draw ceremony. She's a former champion at the Australian Open 10 years ago.

In the absence of Williams and Victoria Azarenka, who is embroiled in a custody battle over baby son Leo, Sharapova and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber are the only former winners in the draw.

With Kerber still competing at a tournament in Sydney, Tiley was happy to call on Sharapova.

"We needed a former champion to come, she accepted the invite".

Sharapova has already made an impact here, if not quite the one she and the tournament organisers would have wanted, when she took Williams's prestigious place on the podium for Thursday night's televised draw.

It's been nearly six years since Maria Sharapova was world No.1 and a decade since she won the Australian Open, but the Russian still hopes to achieve both once more as she rebuilds her tennis career.

When asked if Sharapova's inclusion and the grand way in which she was unveiled had been appropriate, Tiley added: "In fairness to Maria, the adjudication has occurred on that".

Sharapova, 30, now 47th in the rankings, believes she can be world No.1.'That is the ultimate goal, ' she said.

"I watched the whole tournament and I remember it very well", she said.

"I certainly hope I can put myself in that position. because I've been there and have delivered on those moments".

Top seed Simona Halep will face a local wildcard in the first round, while men's world number one Rafael Nadal will start his bid for a second title in Melbourne against Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos. I had all these great five-setters and at the end the epic match against Rafa. "It was the highlight of previous year, beating Wimbledon and all the other tournaments I played".



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