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Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova

Andy Roddick has been out of tennis for essentially five years, but his influence is still strong as he delivers concise, no-BS opinions through social media, live streaming and TV appearances.

Roddick discussed a number of topics Wednesday with ThePostGame, including Maria Sharapova's comeback. Sharapova was suspended 15 months after testing positive for meldonium, a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency at the start of 2016. She has received wild-card entries for the Stuttgart Open, Madrid Open and Italian Open. A wild card to the French Open is also possible.

Sharapova's inclusion in these tournaments has garnered mixed reactions from fellow players and the media, with critics contesting she should have to work her way back into high-profile tournaments. Roddick believes Sharapova has served her penalty and should have a right to play in the tournaments if she is invited. After all, tennis stars are the individual who drive the sport's engagement.

ThePostGame: Everything with Maria Sharapova is a big deal right now. There are a lot of players upset with her getting wild cards to tournaments and whether or not she will have to qualify for Roland Garros is still up in the air. What's your opinion on the situation?
ANDY RODDICK: To say you don't understand why she should get a wild card into a small tournament like Stuttgart, is naïve. Regardless of what you think about the reasons for her suspension, the fact of the matter is she can add a tremendous amount of value to a venue and to a sport that doesn't have a built-in home team. We do rely on our stars. We rely on our champions to sell the game, to promote the game. To say that tournaments shouldn't be allowed to take advantage of star power is a little bit ridiculous, especially when they're of the caliber of Maria. She has been penalized, she has served her time, she is coming in with no ranking, so she's going to have to go through the toughest parts of the draw. I absolutely believe that she would not have kept taking what she was taking had she realized it had been banned, and that's completely her mistake and she's said that much. I'm not sure how well she could have gone about it, but she's certainly served her penalty. I'm not a big fan of penalties after penalties, you know?

TPG: Do you remember anything similar going on in the men's game when you were playing?
RODDICK: You would know as much as I do. It gets announced. I think the one thing that might be lost in this whole conversation is there needs to be a win somewhere. If tennis does have the strictest drug testing in sports ... we're on the Olympic program. I had to provide an hour every single day of my life that I would be available for testing. Now, that probably only happen five or six times during the year about of competition, a lot more at tournaments, but there was the possibility every day before 5 and 6 a.m. that somebody was going to show up, knock on my door and I would have to do a drug test. When someone gets banned because of it and then they say there's a problem, no, we're catching the problem. There has to be a win. It can't just be a problem if people are getting caught and a problem if people aren't get caught.

TPG: Some critics are saying players might just be afraid of Maria coming back on the court. Simona Halep is one. Do you think there's an aspect of that present?
RODDICK: I don't know. I can respect anyone's opinion. If people are getting pissed off she's getting wild cards, I can certainly respect that, but I understand the reason behind a tournament wanting to give her a wild card. It's a no-brainer. It's not as if she hasn't served her time. It's not as if she hasn't said I'm the one who made the mistake. I'm not sure how else she could have gone about it. You can be angry at it, but at some point you're going to have to get over it. She is coming back and she is going to be tough to deal with and it is going to be unfair for somebody like Halep who has earned her ranking of top three or four and they're going to be playing Maria in the first or second round somewhere. It's unfortunate, but that's just the way it's gonna shake out.


On another topic – Serena Williams – Roddick says he texts her regularly and he is ecstatic about her pregnancy.

"I was certainly surprised, but she is the greatest of all time, so we see her in this light, but she's also a strong 35-year-old woman, who is engaged and who is certainly on the path to kind of forming the rest of her life," Roddick says. "I was so happy. I've seen her with our little guy, and I think people would be amazed at how maternal she is. She's so sweet with kids and I'm just really happy for him."

Roddick's 19-month-old, Hank, lives a pretty cool life. Roddick lives in Austin, and the week before The Masters, Hank ran about the court as Sergio Garcia's ballboy, while the future green jacket winner hit tennis balls.

Hank also gets to hang with Serena, although, he does not exactly comprehend the greatness he has met.

"He has no idea," Roddick says. "It's pretty funny. He has a little tennis racquet and he'll hand it to her and I'm like, 'Hank, that is exactly what she wants to be doing right now, playing tennis with an 18-year-old. That's on her list of priorities for the day.' He doesn't know the magnitude of Serena right now, but I'm sure he'll be able to put that together one day and there's plenty of photos. I'm sure he'll be very impressed with it when he's older."

Roddick spoke to ThePostGame on behalf of Purina Pro Plan. The former U.S. Open champion is a spokesman for the brand's The Incredible Dog Challenge, a sort of Olympics for dogs. Roddick and wife Brooklyn Decker own two English bulldogs named Billie Jean and Bob Costas.

As part of Purina Pro Plan's "Call for Incredible" campaign, the brand will make a donation to America's VetDogs, an organization that specifically trains and places guide dogs to work with veterans with disabilities.

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