Sharapova to open her 2018 Australian Open campaign against Germany's Tatjana Maria

Annette Crawford
January 13, 2018

"Maria is an Australian Open champion".

As worldwide media slammed the decision to have Sharapova walk the trophy on court, tournament director Craig Tiley defended the Open's stance - and the five-time grand slam champion.

But Tiley insisted there were no mixed messages, citing Sharapova's status as a former champion, with the Russian lifting the trophy 10 years ago.

"We wanted to have a former champion", Tiley said.

This is set to be another wide open tournament in the absence of Williams, and Sharapova revealed she still believes she can be world number one.

With reigning champion Serena Williams missing the tournament, organisers chose Sharapova to represent the women. It is [50 years] since she won.

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.

The player also had the easiest of rides in her on-stage interview with the host broadcaster, Channel 7. "They haven't come easily".

He said: "It was an unbelievable final, an wonderful moment for me in my life and it's great to be back here. It was the highlight of a year ago, beating Wimbledon and all the other tournaments I played". I thought I'd win a few tournaments and then have a family.

"In her autobiography past year, Sharapova observed of Williams, who has a 19-2 career record over her: "[Her] physical presence is much stronger and bigger than you realise watching TV. "And here I am in a sport that has given me so much - and I hope to have a family too". "She has thick arms and thick legs and is so intimidating and strong".

Maria Sharapova failed a drugs test during her previous appearance at Melbourne Park in 2016.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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