The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and Dundee)

From the high of career grand slam to the low of drugs ban

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Maria Sharapova’s tennis career has been plunged into despair after she was handed a two-year ban by the ITF.

Here Courier Sport looks at the highs and lows of the Russian’s career.

HIGHS Winning Wimbledon at 17

Sharapova announced her arrival on to the world stage in stunning fashion with a famous victory at Wimbledon when she was only 17, becoming the third youngest woman ever to win at SW19. After getting past Lindsay Davenport in the semi-finals, she beat Serena Williams 6-1 6-4 in the final, setting herself up for a life at the top of the game.

Reaching No 1 in the world

After building on her first grand slam win at Wimbledon with some deep runs into the early 2005 majors, Sharapova raced up the rankings and reached the summit in August 2005, becoming the first Russian to be ranked No 1 in the world. Her stay there only lasted a week, but she returned to the top in 2007, 2008 and 2012.

Adding more grand slams

Sharapova was at the top of the game and proved it with further grand slam wins. She won the US Open in 2006, downing top seeds Amelie Mauresmo and Justine Henin on her way to Flushing Meadows glory, and then added the 2008 Australian Open to her collection with a win over Ana Ivanovic in the final.

Completing career grand slam

In 2012 Sharapova became the 10th woman to complete the career grand slam, when she won the French Open for the first time, putting her name alongside tennis greats such as Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams. She registered a second success at Roland Garros in 2014, making it the only major tournament she has won twice.

LOWS Trouble with Serena

The Russian’s win over Serena Williams at Wimbledon was as good as it got for her as an amazingly one-sided rivalry emerged. Sharapova registered another win in 2005 but Williams has reeled off 18 wins in a row as she dominated their match-ups. There’s no love lost off court either with several fallings out, with both making barbed comments about each other’s personal lives.

Injury problems

It’s not only her inability to beat Williams that has restricted Sharapova to five grand slams as she has also suffered from regular injury problems. Large sections of her 2007 and 2008 seasons were beset with shoulder problems, which resulted in surgery in 2008 and saw her slip out of the top 100 in 2009.

Banned for two years

Sharapova got tongues wagging when she called a hasty press conference in March before revealing she had failed a drugs test at the Australian Open in January. She had tested positive for meldonium, though claimed it was for medical reasons. After a tribunal, the ITF handed her a two-year suspension backdated to the date of her failed test.

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