Back in January 2016 in a development that shocked the tennis world, Maria Sharapova announced that she had tested positive in a drug test. Now the International Tennis Federation has imposed the verdict of a 2 year ban on her. Though she will appeal her comeback on tour seems to be an uphill task.
This incident is all the more tragic because Maria Sharapova’s career is the story of true grit and determination. She was born on April 19, 1989 in Russia. In 1994 she emigrated to America with her father Yuri Sharapov to get tennis lessons. Both of them couldn’t speak English and her father took several low paying jobs to fund her training expenses. In 1995 she was signed by IMG and started training at the Nick Bollettieri Academy.
She made her mark in Women’s Tennis when she won Wimbledon 2004. It was described as the “most stunning upset” as she defeated the defending champion Serena Williams. She attained the #1 ranking in the year 2005. Sharapova went on to win US Open (2006), Australian Open (2008), and Roland Garros (2012) completing the career grand slam. During the period she suffered from shoulder injuries and had to undergo surgery. She even dropped out of top ten but managed to regain the # 1 ranking in 2012. She had another shoulder injury in 2013 but came back from it to win French Open in 2014. Off the court she was commercial superstar – she has endorsed brands like nike, motorola, cannon, land rover, tag heuer and TIffany.
In March 2016 it was announced that Maria was provisionally suspended from professional tennis as she had tested positive to a drug meldonium, commercially known as Mildronate. Though it is not FDA approved, it is used in eastern Europe to increase the oxygen delivery efficiency in blood for heart patients. She held a press conference to announce this and gave the feeble excuse that she had ignored the email sent about the ban on the substance. Immediately she was dropped by brands like Nike and Tag heuer.
Now that ITF has banned her for two years – she posted on her Facebook Page that she would be appealing the decision. Many on the tour believe her conduct was unprofessional but not criminal.
Even if she makes a comeback, she has an uphill task ahead of her due to her persistent injuries and the dropping form. At 27 she has age on her side and her talent is unquestionable. All her fans would be hoping that she will be able to bounce back from this and show the determination to rise to the top again.