Is Maria Sharapova still a box office draw for sponsors?

Maria Sharapova in action at the Australian Open in January 2016

Maria Sharapova faces the biggest challenge of her tennis career – namely her return to the sport after a 15-month drugs ban – and it is not just her continued sporting success that is in the spotlight.

Off the court, where she makes the bulk of her earnings, the question is – can she be as big a sponsor draw as she was before her enforced absence?

The 29-year-old will return to action on Wednesday, 26 April, in Stuttgart after being handed a wildcard, and although some fellow players have expressed misgivings, she has the support of the WTA tour, and her fans.

And, with biggest commercial rival Serena Williams announcing she is pregnant and facing time away from the game, the Russian’s return is certainly timely.

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