WTA Tour: After her doping ban was cut short on Tuesday, Maria Sharapova's return to tennis will provide a boost for the sport, says her ex-coach.
Maria Sharapova's former coach Nick Bollettieri believes the Russian's return will provide a "tremendous boost" for tennis.
Her two-year suspension after testing positive for meldonium was cut to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday, allowing the 29-year-old to resume her career in April.
Bollettieri concedes it will be difficult for five-time grand slam champion Sharapova to challenge at the top level once again, but says her mental resolve will give her the best possible shot at doing so.
"Maria Sharapova has a few qualities that only a few people have in life, whether it's on the tennis court, in business, or in parenthood, she's [mentally] tough," Bollettieri told Omnisport. "She only knows one thing: I can and I will do it.
"Nobody knows if she's going to be capable to come back to what she was as one of the best players in the world, because today the tour is very difficult.
"I think it [her return] will be a tremendous boost. The curiosity will be at a high point and then players who play against her, they are going to compete.
"Maria's not going to have an easy time. She's going to have to compete more than she ever has.
"I believe she will get a very warm welcome back from the fans. All players have their own way of reasoning things, that's up to them.
"But Maria is a hard-nosed lady. She's not going to listen to that. She's going to be happy to be back on that playing field and start the ball rolling again."