Them’s fighting words.
Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard is holding nothing back, slamming Maria Sharapova like she would an overhead smash on the court.
If Bouchard had her way, the Russian tennis great would be banned from tennis for life.
Sharapova returned from a 15-month doping suspension on Wednesday, and won her opening match at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany.
Rather than go through qualifying, she received a wild card to play in the tournament, and has received wild card spots to play in Madrid and Rome.
The French Open is considering an invitation for the two-time champion as well.
Bouchard called Sharapova a cheater, saying, “I don’t think that’s right. She is a cheater and so to me, I don’t think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport again. It’s so unfair to all the other players who do it the right way.”
She added, “It sends the wrong message to young kids — cheat, and we’ll welcome you back with open arms.”
But here’s the rub.
Sharapova wasn’t given a lifetime ban by the Women’s Tennis Association, and there have been similar doping suspensions handed to athletes in the Olympics, hockey, baseball, football and basketball leagues.
This decision, whether you or Bouchard disagree, is all about money.
The fact of the matter is, Sharapova remains one of the most recognizable and marketable figures in the sport.