REUTERS - Former world number one Martina Navratilova has urged players to stop focusing on Maria Sharapova after the Russian's recent return from a 15-month doping ban.
Sharapova's comeback has garnered widespread interest with current and former players offering their opinions on the 30-year-old, including men's number one Andy Murray and Canada's Eugenie Bouchard, who labelled the Russian "a cheater".
Bouchard beat Sharapova in the second round of the Madrid Open on Monday, saying that she felt partly inspired to win the match against the five-times major champion after receiving private messages of support from "people in the tennis world".
"I think it's time for the players to lay off Maria. She made a huge mistake, paid dearly for it, 'done the time' and now let's play ball," Navratilova, who won 18 grand slams during a glittering career, tweeted on her verified account.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru