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Doping Ban Has Tarnished Reputation, Says Sharapova

Five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova has accepted that there will be a cloud of suspicion hanging over her when she will make a return to professional tennis next month.

The Russian tennis star said she thinks if she was trying to hide something, she doesn’t think she would come out to the world and say she was taking a drug for 10 years. Maria added if she was really trying to take the easy way out, that is not a very smart thing to do but the answer to the question is, absolutely.

Sharapova is presently serving a doping ban of 15 months after she tested positive for Meldonium, the banned cardiac drug, at the Australian Open in 2016. She admitted to making use of Meldonium at an extraordinary press conference last March. However, Maria insisted that her only mistake was not realizing the drug had been added to the banned list at the start of 2016. She initially received a doping ban of two years but it was reduced on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that concluded she had not intended to cheat. Her suspension ends on April 26 and Sharapova will play her first match the same day having received a wild card into the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

In the last few weeks, the impending return of Sharapova is the hottest topic in tennis. A big majority of fellow players have opposed the "special status" granted to Maria Sharapova in the form of wild card entries. Former grand slam winner Andy Roddick had commented that Sharapova should not be given a wildcard. Roddick remarked it has two different issues - the issue of morality and how you view it, and the issue of business.

German tennis legend Boris Becker has put his weight behind Sharapova. Becker remarked Sharapova was banned for 18 months and she did her time, so now if she wants to play tennis again, there is no reason why she cannot play.

One of tennis' biggest stars and the world's highest-earning female athlete, the 29-year-old received nice receptions when she walked out to play her exhibition matches in Las Vegas and Puerto Rico late last year. The five-time Grand Slam winner said she is hopeful of making a quick return to her place among elite players.

Sharapova added she has expectations of herself because she knows what she is capable of. Maria also remarked renewing her battle with world No. 1 and 23-time major winner Serena Williams is not weighing heavily on her mind. Sharapova commented that we are not celebrated as two women with completely different backgrounds who have created incredible opportunities for ourselves and our families but instead we are ranked against each other for our differences, our game, and our earnings. The Russian tennis star added she thinks the concept of lists and the amount that players make is bollocks and added the amount of respect that she has for Serena as an athlete is enormous.

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Albert Wolfgang
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