Suspension ‘sharpened’ Sharapova
LOS ANGELES — Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova says her 15-month doping ban has only sharpened her passion for tennis.
The former world No 1 from Russia, preparing to play at Stanford next week in her first WTA tournament in the United States since her suspension ended, wrote on the Players’ Tribune website of the rollercoaster of emotions she has experienced since returning to competition in April.
“Though these last two years have been tougher — so much tougher — than I ever could have anticipated ... my passion for the game never wavered,” Sharapova wrote. “If anything, it’s only grown sharper.”
Stanford tournament officials gave the 30-year-old Sharapova a wildcard entry as she gets set to compete in the tournament for the first time six years.
Similar wildcards offered upon her comeback sparked criticism from some of her WTA peers, who felt she should have to work her way back from suspension without such benefits.
Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, a heart and blood-boosting drug, at the 2016 Australian Open. She said that she had taken it for several years and did not know it had been placed on the banned list at the beginning of 2016.
Sharapova was issued with a two-year suspension, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced it on appeal.