Sharapova speaks a month after doping suspension


Maria Sharapova makes announcement in February that she had tested positive for Melodium. PHOTO/File
Maria Sharapova makes announcement in February that she had tested positive for Melodium. PHOTO/File

Former world number one, Maria Sharapova, faced the media a month before her return to the WTA Tour following a doping suspension imposed last year.

Sharapova appeared at the Inspiring Women in Sports Conference in Rancho Mirage, California on Tuesday, March 28 ahead of the ANA Inspiration golf major at Mission Hills. She told the conference that she didn’t want to end her career “on someone else’s terms.”

“Yes, it’s a choice, but it becomes your life and it’s your lifestyle. and although I’m at a stage and an age in my career and in my life where you’re closer to the end than you are to the beginning, you always want to end your career or a chapter in your life on your terms and in your voice and to be in a moment where you feel, or you felt like it could have ended on someone else’s voice, in someone else’s terms was very difficult to accept and that’s why I fought so hard for the truth to be out.”

Sharapova was among the top 10 players in the world when she tested positive for the banned substance meldonium at last year’s Australian Open.

The 29-year-old Russian’s two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation was later reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Sharapova said this year that she would return to competition at the Stuttgart Grand Prix, the main draw for which starts on April 24, the penultimate day of the five-time grand slam champion’s ban.

“It’s always been an internal feeling for me. I think when you love what you do, and you do it with passion and integrity, and you work hard on core number 26 when no one is watching and you have a team around you that of course has to push you and have the same goals as you, but ultimately you are the leader and you are the driving force of it. Then you know what you stand for and you know who you are, and that’s why I fought so hard to get that back,” added Sharapova.

At the moment, Sharapova, would need a wildcard from the French Tennis Federation to play in the French Open. Her performances in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome could avoid forcing the All England Club into making the same decision regarding this year’s Wimbledon.

“I went through six months of going through two different tribunals. And this tribunal was neutral as opposed to the first one which was chosen all by the Tennis Federation, which was very difficult to accept in the beginning. So in a way, I knew that this was a two-step process and I knew that it would end in Switzerland at the court of arbitration of sport.

But, to have to go through the process and to use the amount of paperwork that I did, and the printer, and the e-mails, and the phone calls to get to that decision and to get to that message and those paragraphs was very meaningful.

“And the fact and all in all to get back what I’ve been fighting for and what I’ve done since I was a young girl that was, that was my mission, that’s what I wanted and I got it.”

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