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Maria Sharapova congratulates pregnant rival Serena

Last updated on: April 28, 2017 11:08 IST

Serena WilliamsRussian tennis star Maria Sharapova, who marked her competitive return from a 15-month doping suspension eased past fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-5, 6-1 on Thursday to reach the Stuttgart Grand Prix quarter-finals, has offered her congratulations to pregnant rival Serena Williams.

"I think it's one of the greatest gifts that a woman can receive in life, it's a blessing. It's a beautiful chapter in her life," Sport24 quoted Sharapova as saying when asked about Williams.

Williams, the 23-time Grand Slam champion, revealed last week that she is expecting her first baby and will not play again this year.

Meanwhile, the five-time Grand Slam champion has also been handed wild cards for Madrid (May 7-13) and Rome (May 15-21) tournaments.

Whether Sharapova will receive a wildcard at Roland Garros will be known just a week before qualifying begins for the second major of the season, which is slated to be held from May 28 to June 11.

Earlier this month, French Tennis Federation (FFT) president Bernard Giudicelli had hinted at their reservations to give the 30-year-old player a wild card entry which she would require as her world ranking has almost disappeared during her absence.

Sharapova's initial two-year ban was earlier reduced to 15 months following an appeal to the court of arbitration for sport, which concluded she had not intended to cheat.