Opinions split on Sharapova's return
Debate rages on whether Sharapova is deserving of wildcard but spotlight is on Russian in Stuttgart
She was not allowed to train at Stuttgart's Porsche Arena until her 15-month doping ban is lifted today.
Indeed, rules mean that she is not even allowed into the venue where the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is being held, and she is not on its promotional posters.
But Maria Sharapova already has a presence here.
Her face is plastered across the Sugarpova booth in the fan village - her own brand of candies - and conversations seem to centre on the tainted former world No. 1.
And views are divided.
"She's done her time, and I was disappointed when her (story) came out. But I've been on both sides and it's up to the tournament whether they want to give her a wildcard or not," said Kim Clijsters, a former world No. 1 herself, and one who has jumped to the other side of tennis, serving as a tournament director at the BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games in Antwerp.
Sharapova will return to tennis today in Stuttgart as an unranked player, but a wildcard will see her compete in the main draw, facing Italian Roberta Vinci at 12.30am tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
The 30-year-old Russian has also received wildcards to the Madrid Open and the Rome Italian Open next month.
"Maria Sharapova is still Maria Sharapova, with all the tournaments and Grand Slams she's won. Fans, sponsors, even other players on Tour want to see how well she will do and how well she will play," said the 33-year-old Clijsters, who was unveiled as an ambassador for October's season-ending BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
I don't care if she gets a wildcard or not, but still you cannot promote a player coming back from doping. World No. 5 Simona Halep on Maria Sharapova
"I think it's a bonus for any tournament... this will draw more spectators, and I'm interested to see as well."
Vinci joined the likes of Caroline Wozniacki, Dominika Cibulkova, Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska in speaking out against the presentation of wildcards to players returning from doping bans.
"I know (Sharapova) is important for tennis, for the WTA, for everything. She is a great person, a great player, a great champion, but this is my opinion," said Vinci on Monday.
"She can return to play but without any wildcards, without any help. Probably she could play two or three tournaments and get into the top 30 (of the world rankings).
"Probably there are a lot of players who will agree with me about the wildcard."
The 34-year-old Italian is best remembered for her run to the semi-finals of the 2015 US Open, beating Serena Williams in the process and preventing the American from achieving a calendar Grand Slam.
Vinci eventually lost to compatriot Flavia Pennetta in the final.
Sharapova, a three-time winner of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, was initially slapped with a two-year ban for using meldonium after the heart drug was added to the list of banned substances early last year. She claimed it was an administrative error, with no intention to cheat.
The ban was reduced to 15 months after an appeal.
A straight-faced Simona Halep said that she could not support or defend the move of tournament organisers to give Sharapova what appears to be a free ride back into the sport, but her thoughts on the impact of such a move were clear.
"I don't care if she gets a wildcard or not, but still you cannot promote a player coming back from doping," said the world No.5 Romanian.
"I don't think it's positive for young kids to promote one player who is coming back from doping."