Sharapova plans new return in Warsaw

Sharapova's return to the circuit will be welcomed by fans and sponsors.
Injury-plagued Maria Sharapova is returning to WTA Tour action at next week’s Warsaw Open in Poland, the former world number one announced on her personal Web site.

The clay court event, which starts on May 18, will be her first appearance in singles since the Rogers Cup in Montreal last August. The Russian played in a losing doubles match at the Indian Wells tournament in March, but has not played competitively since as she battles to recover from a persistent shoulder problem. “Although it has not been an easy process these last few months, I really believe it’s made me a much stronger person in so many areas of my life, professionally and personally,” she was quoted on Return of service: Sharapova in images The three-time grand slam winner was sidelined by a torn rotator cuff in her right shoulder and had surgery in October, leaving her unable to defend her Australian Open title in Melbourne.

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After a near 10-month absence, Sharapova has dropped to 65th in the world rankings and makes no mention of whether she can play in the second grand slam of the year at the French Open. “I know it is going to take me a while to get back into the groove of playing tournaments and matches, but I am so excited to be competing again,” she said. The 22-year-old Sharapova has a massive following with her celebrity status turning her into a global superstar.

“I want to thank all my die-hard fans who never stopped believing in me… your letters and messages have been truly inspirational and something that I always looked back to when I had the low moments,” she added. Home player Agnieszka Radwanska will be top seed in the $600,000 tournament which was won by the now retired Justine Henin when it was last staged in 2007.