Johannesburg [South Africa], Jan. 10 (ANI
): Embattled Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova
, who was handed over a 15-month ban for doping
, will make her return to competitive tennis at the WTA Tour clay-court tournament
in Stuttgart in April, it was announced on Tuesday.
Sharapova tested positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, following which she was handed over a two-year suspension by the International Tennis Federation.
Sharapova's 24-month suspension was, however, later slashed down to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CSA) in the wake of the former's appeal against an "unfairly harsh suspension".
Meldonium was placed on the banned list by the World Anti-Doping Agency last year. She, however, said that she had been taking the drug since 2006 legally for years due to health concerns.
The 29-year-old five-time Grand Slam will play her first match in Stuttgart on April 26 - the day her ban expires.
"I could not be happier to have my first match back on tour at one of my favourite tournaments," Sport24 quoted the Russian tennis star as saying in a press release.
"I can't wait? to see all my great fans and to be back doing what I love," she added.
Stuttgart has been a happy hunting ground for the former world number one, who has lost just once - to world No 1 Angelique Kerber in 2015 - at the WTA tournament and won the title in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
"I'm really happy for Maria that she's back after a long break. Particularly pleasing for me is that it's going to be our audience that gets to watch her comeback live," said tournament director Markus Guenthardt.
The 29-year-old has been given a wildcard to appear in Stuttgart. (ANI