Maria excited about next month’s comeback
RANCHO MIRAGE: Tennis star Maria Sharapova said on Tuesday she is excited about her return to competition next month, feeling vindicated by the reduction of her doping suspension and empowered by her time away.
Russia’s former World No 1 was initially barred for two years after testing positive at the 2016 Australian Open for meldonium, a medication she had been taking for 10 years within the rules, but that was reclassified as a banned drug.
Maria vigorously fought to overturn the ban, saying she had not been properly advised of the official change, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport cut the ban to 15 months and said in its ruling it did not believe she was “an intentional doper.”
“Although I’m at a stage or age in my career where you’re closer to the end than your beginning, you always want to end a chapter in your life on your own terms, in your own voice,” Maria told the ANA Inspiring Women in Sports conference at Mission Hills.
“That’s why I fought so hard for the truth to be out,” the five-time grand slam winner said at the programme that included tennis and women’s sports pioneer Billie Jean King, Olympic champion gymnast Aly Raisman and 2014 ANA Inspiration champion golfer Lexi Thompson.
Maria’s ban will end two days after the Stuttgart grand prix starts on April 24. She has been given a wild card by organisers, who scheduled her first match on the Wednesday in her competitive return. Reuters