Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard has claimed the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) have sent out the wrong message by welcoming Maria Sharapova back to the sport, claiming the Russian should not be allowed to play again.
Sharapova's 15-month drugs ban for testing positive for meldonium officially ended at midnight on Tuesday (April 25).
It enabled Sharapova to play her first competitive match since the 2016 Australian Open against Italy’s Roberta Vinci in the Porsche Grand Prix, with the five-time Grand Slam winner triumphing 7-5, 6-3.
Vinci was among those to criticise the tournament organiser’s decision to give Sharapova a wildcard into the WTA event, which they announced in January.
Bouchard has become the latest player to hit out at the WTA and claimed the Russian was no longer a player she looked up to.
"She's a cheater and I don't think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play again,” Bouchard, a 2014 Wimbledon finalist, told TRT World.
"I think from the WTA it sends the wrong message to young kids: cheat and we'll welcome you back with open arms.
"I don't think that's right and she's not someone I can say I look up to any more.
"It's so unfair to all the other players who do it in the right way and are true."
Sharapova was initially banned for two years by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) before her suspension was reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in October.
CAS ruled that her case was "not about an athlete who cheated" and that she was not an "intentional doper".
On the court, Sharapova continued her progression in the clay court tournament by earning a 7-5, 6-1 win over Ekaterina Makarova in the second round at the Porsche Arena.
She will now take on Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit, who surprised reigning French Open champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain 2-6, 7-6, 6-1.
France's Kristina Mladenovic was responsible for another shock result, beating tournament top seed Angelique Kerber of Germany by a 6-2, 7-5 score.
Mladenovic will play Carla Suárez Navarro in the quarter-finals, after the Spaniard overcame Russia’s Elena Vesina 6-2, 6-4.
Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova will meet Romania’s Simona Halep in the last eight, following her 6-3, 7-5 win over Britain’s Johanna Konta today.