Australian Open: Maria Sharapova's appearance at draw brings condemnation

The Australian Open said Maria Sharapova was the only former champion available to carry the trophy

The Australian Open said Maria Sharapova was the only former champion available to carry the trophy

Controversy continued to follow Maria Sharapova as tournament officials defended their decision to invite the Russian to be one of their two player guests at Thursday's Australian Open draw ceremony. We needed a former champion to come.

Sharapova's back in Australia for the first time since being banned after a doping violation at the 2016 Open. "In fairness to Maria, the adjudication has occurred on that", he said when asked about her drugs suspension and whether her presence at the ceremony was appropriate.

'It's been 10 years [since Sharapova won the title here]. Maria deserved the opportunity'.

"You have many different champions (on the women's tour) and there's a lot of ups and downs. but it's anyone's to grab".

With reigning champion Serena Williams missing the tournament, organisers chose Sharapova to represent the women.

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

"That's why being here is incredibly special, to be on this court".

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