Sharapova great for tennis, deserves US Open spot – King
Speaking to Omnisport, Billie Jean King backed the decision to hand Maria Sharapova a wildcard into the US Open main draw.
Maria Sharapova is great for tennis and deserves to be back on the main stage at the US Open, according to Billie Jean King.
Sharapova, 30, is set to make her first grand slam appearance since the 2016 Australian Open after serving a 15-month doping ban.
King, a 12-time grand slam winner, is delighted to see the Russian back, highlighting Sharapova's popularity with the fans and backing the decision to hand her a main-draw wildcard at Flushing Meadows.
"Maria Sharapova deserves to be in the US Open," King told Omnisport, courtesy of WTA-WSJ.
"She has paid her dues, the fines the time she couldn't play, she has done what she was supposed to do and to have Maria back is great for our sport.
"I think any player who thinks she shouldn't be back as a wildcard is absolutely ridiculous, she deserves to be back.
"We need her, tennis needs her, she is great for our sport and she sells tickets."
Pink 2003 US Open memories.. pic.twitter.com/6gK0oV84pY— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) August 22, 2017
A five-time grand slam winner, Sharapova – who faces Simona Halep in a blockbuster opening-round clash in New York – is ranked 146th in the world ahead of the year's final major.
Atop the rankings, there are eight players who could be number one after the US Open – and King said that was a good sign.
"I think this is the most depth we have ever had, we are also seeing a changing of the guard because I have been through five, six, seven generations," she said.
"I have seen these generations come and go but right now it's so exciting, I really love it because I don't know who is going to win and I really love that feeling because it captures my interest as a former professional player."