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Sharapova return good for women's tennis - Azarenka

One year on from Maria Sharapova's dramatic revelation, Victoria Azarenka is looking forward to the Russian's return.

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Five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova will be back on the WTA Tour next month in Stuttgart following her doping ban and Victoria Azarenka is looking forward to her return.

Tuesday marks a year to the day since Sharapova rocked the tennis world with her admission that she had failed a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open.

Sharapova revealed she had tested positive for meldonium during the grand slam in Melbourne, but claimed to be unaware the substance - which she said she had taken for health problems since 2006 - had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list.

The Russian was initially handed a two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation, but that was reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in October.

The five-time grand slam winner will make her return at the Stuttgart Open - a tournament she has won three times - on April 24.

Sharapova has also been handed a wildcard for the Madrid Open in May, and Azarenka is looking forward to seeing her rival back in competitive action.

"I think it's good for tennis," Azarenka told Omnisport. "She has such a huge fanbase and obviously that's going to bring more attraction to see how she will do, so I think it is good for tennis, good entertainment."

An April return gives Sharapova a month to prepare for the second grand slam of 2017 at Roland Garros, but Azarenka thinks the French Open may come too soon for the 29-year-old.

She added: "It's so hard to predict [if she can be competitive in Paris].

"When you see players who are playing now it's hard to predict. 

"When you haven't seen someone for a year and a half or so after a pretty big announcement it's hard to predict, but I think it's pretty exciting [to see how she fares]."

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