Sharapova: ITF tried to make example of me

Maria Sharapova can start playing tennis again in April.

Racket manufacturer Head congratulates Maria Sharapova after her doping ban was reduced to 15 months from two years.

Sharapova said in a statement that she is "counting the days" when she can return to the court. "Tennis is my passion and I have missed it", Sharapova wrote on her Facebook page.

Sharapova is now eligible to return to tennis courts starting April 26 next year.

While the tribunal did not accept the ITF's assertion that Sharapova had intentionally violated the rules, it did place sole responsibility with her. In addition, she claimed to be unaware the drug had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's (Wada) banned list. The ITF panel also said the case "inevitably led to the conclusion" that she took the substance "for the objective of enhancing her performance". The former world No. 1 in women's singles had lodged an appeal with the court in June, shortly after the ITF announced its ban. "Based on this ruling, the ITF has a lot to learn".

Sharapova is a five-time Grand Slam victor and was Forbes' highest-paid female athlete for 11 consecutive years, until American Serena Williams moved above her this year.

Sharapova's absence from the game could have afforded the five-time slam victor an opportunity to address some underlying fitness issues, which Shriver believes will make her a contender for major honours when she makes her comeback next April.

Love, Maria Sharapova had failed a drug test in March for the 2016 Australian Open.

It added that Sharapova was at fault for not giving her agent "adequate instructions" in checking Wada's prohibited list and "failing to supervise and control" her agent.

Admission: The five-time Grand Slam champion, who has suffered from persistent shoulder injuries, admitted in March she had tested positive for meldonium at January's Australian Open. Well, her sentence went into effect on January 26, 2016, and was supposed to end on January 25, 2018.

Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova's legal team are mulling over the possibility of suing the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after Sharapova's doping ban for the use of meldonium was reduced from two years to 15 months.

An independent ITF panel had found that Sharapova did not intend to cheat but that she bore "sole responsibility" and "very significant fault" for the positive test. She also called on the International Tennis Federation to look into better ways to notify athletes of changes to doping regulations. The tweet also included a statement from Head CEO Johan Eliasch.

  • Julie Sanders