AFP: Maria Sharapova has brushed off criticism from her rivals as she prepares to make her return next week in Stuttgart following her 15-month doping ban.
“That is the least of my concerns,” the 30-year-old Russian told Thursday’s edition of Stern magazine.
“I haven’t wasted a single thought on it. I know that I am respected in my field.
“I see it in how my opponents play against me.”
Sharapova, a five-times Grand Slam champion, had an initial two-year suspension by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) reduced to 15 months after she tested positive at the 2016 Australian Open for meldonium.
It is a medication Sharapova had been taking when it was within the rules, but which was later reclassified as a prohibited drug.
The Russian makes her return next Wednesday -- the first day she is eligible to play -- having been given a wildcard for Stuttgart’s WTA tournament with some rivals disapproving of the organisers’ decision.
“It’s a German tournament and we have so many good German players, so this is a little strange,” said Germany’s current world number one Angelique Kerber.
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki said the Stuttgart tournament’s decision to grant Sharapova a wildcard is “disrespectful to other players and the WTA”.