BORIS BECKER has told Maria Sharapova: Be more grateful that tennis is taking you back.
Becker believes Sharapova is as entitled as anyone to a second chance after serving a 15-month ban for taking banned drug meldonium.
But the tennis legend is not alone in thinking the Russian superstar has been less than humble ahead of her comeback next week in Stuttgart.
Becker said: “In general, I always believe in a second chance.
“Sharapova is one of the biggest names in women’s sport and therefore she is one of the main attractions for every tournaments she wants to play.
“I don’t criticise the tournaments for giving her a wildcard.
‘I WISH I’D RAPED her’
Paedo Adam Johnson’s sick prison brag about schoolgirl he sexually abused caught on shocking secret video
Teen racing F4 driver Billy Monger has both legs amputated while in coma after horror smash as Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button help raise more than £500k
Man United ace Marcos Rojo taken off on stretcher in agony following nasty collision in Europa League clash
SIGNED, SEAD, DELIVERED
Schalke left-back Sead Kolasinac ‘has medical and has agreed personal terms’ with Arsenal
Zlat’s GOTTA HURT
Zlatan Ibrahimovic limps off after nasty looking knee injury against Anderlecht that could end his season with Manchester United
Man Utd star Zlatan Ibrahimovic admits he doesn’t know how much longer he’ll remain in the game
TEAM GB HERO KILLED
Mangled wreckage of Olympic hero Germaine Mason’s motorbike revealed after fatal crash on late-night ride with Usain Bolt in Jamaica
MUM’S THE WORD
Serena Williams confirms she is ’20 weeks’ pregnant with first child by Reddit chief Alexis Ohanian
‘FASTEST CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN EVER’
Tragic British racing driver Billy Monger who had both legs amputated in horror F4 crash has more than £500k raised in just 24 hours to help with recovery
Schalke’s Leon Goretzka plays on and scores with a concussion before being rushed to hospital
ULTIMATE FLASHING CHAMPIONSHIP
UFC ring girl Arianny Celeste goes TOPLESS on the beach as she soaks up sun in Mexico
Man United legend Paul Scholes believes Marcus Rashford should be starting over Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Antonio Conte puts Cobham HQ on lock down by limiting visitors and is making Chelsea players train longer in bid to refocus stars
John Terry could be recalled for Spurs semi-final clash after Gary Cahill is hospitalised by mystery illness
Man United 2 Anderlecht 1 (3-2 agg): Marcus Rashford’s extra-time winner sees Red Devils squeeze into semis on rough night where they lose Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo
SEMIS IN SIGHT
LIVE – Man United 2-1 Anderlecht (3-2 agg): Marcus Rashford breaks through in extra-time at Old Trafford
Get well soon
Former England ace Ugo Ehiogu rushed to hospital after suffering heart attack at Tottenham’s training ground
FIVE THINGS WE LEARNT
Paul Pogba’s passing makes up for misses but Zlatan’s injury could finish Man United’s season
CARL’S IN DEMAND
Carl Jenkinson eyed by Brighton and Newcastle after the Arsenal right-back missed Palace move
BREAK DE BANK
Real Madrid preparing a world record £60m bid to bring David De Gea to the Bernabeu with Thibaut Courtois their back-up option
“But it’s also open that she hasn’t been the most popular of players. I think it’s a chance for her to maybe show a different side, maybe be a bit more humble, maybe be a bit nicer to some of the other players.
“She was out for 15 months, she paid the penalty and everything. But I don’t see appreciation yet for the fact she’s been given a second chance.”
Serena Williams’ pregnancy – announced on Sharapova’s 30thbirthday – means they will not be renewing their rivalry this year and perhaps never again.
But Becker feels another, more welcome return, in the shape of Roger Federer’s remarkable run since recovering from injury, means the “golden era” of the Big Four in men’s tennis is alive and well again.
Because he believes both Federer AND Rafa Nadal are perfectly capable of overhauling world No 1 Andy Murray and No 2 Novak Djokovic to return to the top of the world rankings.
Becker, 49, said: “I would compare Federer with the likes of Pele, Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali. He has transcended to a different level.
“He does something that was called impossible. He attracts millions of new fans who understand what it feels like to get older.
“He changes the clock. He plays like a 25 year old and looks like a 25 year old, but in his passport it says 35. It’s a beautiful thing.
“Everybody starts the year fresh, at zero. You need the first two tournaments to get your confidence back and your feeling for the court.
“In Roger’s case he is full of it, while Andy and Novak haven’t yet delivered this year. It’s much easier to play tennis when you are full of confidence.
“It’s always a challenge trying to stay at No 1, but it’s especially dangerous if it’s someone who has done it before.
“Roger knows how to pace himself, he knows how to schedule.
“And I wouldn’t completely write off the man from Spain, Rafa. He also had a fantastic beginning of the year and his time is coming now.
“We are back to the golden era of the Big Four competing against each other, the comeback of the Big Four.”
But while Murray and Djokovic have made their returns from injury in Monte Carlo, Federer has decided to sit out most of the clay-court season and focus on trying to win an EIGHTH Wimbledon title.
Although Federer says he thinks he will play at the French Open, Becker reckons he should and will pass on Roland Garros and leave his rivals to wear themselves out in one of the most open-looking events for years.
Becker, who was Djokovic’s head coach when the Serb completed his career Grand Slam in Paris last year, said: “I think it’s very smart for him not to play the clay court season.
“I’m actually doubtful he will play the French. I think he is going to make up his mind very late. Clay is physically very very demanding and it was never his best surface anyway.
“He has put himself in the perfect position for grass and for Wimbledon, so why should he jeopardise that?
“I was pretty excited being Novak’s coach last year, so for me personally it was the most exciting French in years.
“But from a fan’s perspective, I think the French Open is open.
“You have Rafa back in form, you have Novak as defending champion and Andy reaching the final last year.
“I think the French Open is extremely exciting.”
Boris Becker was speaking at the partypoker MILLIONS Event, Dusk Till Dawn Nottingham. For information visit www.partypoker.com