Maria Sharapova: Doping ban has tarnished reputation | tennis | Hindustan Times
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Maria Sharapova: Doping ban has tarnished reputation

Maria Sharapova ‘absolutely’ sure doping suspicions will linger. Five-time tennis major winner says it will be hard for her to shake off suspicions as she nears the end of her 15-month doping ban

tennis Updated: Mar 19, 2017 00:08 IST
maria sharapova

Maria Sharapova will return from her 15-month doping ban at a tournament in Germany in April. (AP)

Maria Sharapova acknowledges irreparable damage has been done to her reputation as she prepares to make her return from a 15-month doping ban next month at the Stuttgart Open.

The former world No. 1 tested positive for the banned substance meldonium at last year’s Australian Open and initially was prohibited from playing professionally for two years.

Maria Sharapova denied knowing that meldonium had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances at the start of 2016, and an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport saw her sanction reduced by nine months.

However, asked if she felt suspicions would linger around her for the remainder of her career, Sharapova told Vogue: “I think if I was trying to hide something, I don’t think I would come out to the world and say I was taking a drug for 10 years.

“If I was really trying to take the easy way out, that’s not a very smart thing to do. But the answer to your question is, absolutely.”

When she does return to the WTA circuit, though, the five-time Grand Slam winner hopes to return quickly to her place among elite players.

Sharapova said: “I have expectations of myself because I know what I’m capable of. Will I have those standards? Of course. Will I have to be patient? It’s not my greatest strength.”

However, renewing her battle with world No. 1 and 23-time major winner Serena Williams, who has won each of their past 18 meetings and holds a 19-2 record against the Russian, is not weighing heavily on Sharapova’s mind.

“We’re not celebrated as two women with completely different backgrounds who have created incredible opportunities for ourselves and our families,” said Maria Sharapova.

“Instead we are ranked against each other for our differences, our game, our earnings. I think the concept of lists and the amount that players make is bollocks.

“It would be so easy when you’ve gone through injuries and setbacks to just let it all go. But to have that desire still? The amount of respect that I have for her as an athlete is enormous.”

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