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At least we can be reassured Maria Sharapova is unlikely to be suffering from a heart condition as she settles down to digest the news that her future in tennis looks about as promising as a racket without any strings.


If failing a drugs test for ingesting a banned drug – Meldonium, also known as Mildronate, and used to combat chest pain and heart attacks in the general public that crucially also increases blood flow in athletes – is to be Sharapova’s last telling contribution to her sport, what a tawdry affair to be etched on your tennis tombstone.


Sharapova, 29, intends to appeal the International Tennis Federation’s decision to suspend her for two years for doping at the Australian Open in January, claiming she was unaware the drug had been added to the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) banned list on January 1.



As it stands, we will not see her until the outset of 2018, with her next potential Grand Slam being the French Open at the age of 31. Assuming of course that we do hear her grunt again.
As it stands, it is not far-fetched to suggest it is all over for Sharapova as a professional at the elite level. Her reputation and the good life that accompanied her rise to the summit of her sport are already in the gutter. There is no need to apply any top spin to deduce such implications.


Sharapova used this drug for a decade, was told it was being banned yet continued to use it and did not inform the Russian team doctor,
Maria Sharapova (L) of Russia and Serena Williams of the U.S. hold their respective trophies after their women’s final match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 3, 2004. Seventeen-year-old Sharapova won the match.Maria Sharapova (L) of Russia and Serena Williams of the U.S. hold their respective trophies after their women’s final match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 3, 2004. Seventeen-year-old Sharapova won the match.


Maria Sharapova (L) of Russia and Serena Williams of the U.S. hold their respective trophies after their women’s final match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 3, 2004. Seventeen-year-old Sharapova won the match.



Draw your own conclusions, but have you ever visited a doctor without being asked if you are taking any medication? Or even a pharmacist posing the same question? If you have nothing to hide, why hide it?
How did all this come to pass for Maria, a figure who became the most recognisable sportswoman in the world without even the need to be her sport’s finest performer?



Anybody with more than a passing interest in tennis will recall the summery Sharapova of 2004 when the rampant and lithe Russian teenager fairly bounded onto the scene, towering over Serena Williams and a tennis world that seemed to belong to her and all that was in it.


At the age of 17 and standing 6ft 2in, she produced a performance that belied her tender years to dismantle Williams in straight sets (6-1 6-4) with some bludgeoning ground strokes to become the third youngest winner of Wimbledon behind Lottie Dod and Martina Hingis.


With the looks of a model already apparent in her formative years and the potential to make anything sellable off court – ranging from cars, sportswear and watches to mobile phones, her own range of bubble gum, water and milk – Sharapova’s world was the land of milk and honey.


Even the somewhat annoying grunt was forgiven by sponsors such as Nike, Samsung and Tag Heuer with a greater appetite for Sharapova the product rather than Maria the tennis player, who was forced to serve her way out of poverty in the Siberian town of Nyagan before being flown to Florida at the age of nine by a father who had less than $1,000 on him.
Today Sharapova is estimated to be worth £135m.



The truth of Sharapova’s succss is that the illusion always sells better than the reality. Sharapova has benefited more from her striking beauty than her beautiful ball striking.
Even if she has been a class above her fellow Russian Anna Kournikova, who only reached number eight in the world but became better known than Anna Karenina due to her looks, Sharapova has never dominated tennis. Her last, and only other, win over Serena Williams came in the same year she won Wimbledon. She has suffered 18 straight defeats in 12 years to Serena, the 21-times Grand Slam champion.




Yet prior to her fateful appearance in Melbourne in January, she had led a charmed and memorable life as one of the game’s most alluring players, and leading draws.
By the latter stages of 2005, and before she was out of her teens, Sharapova had astonishingly become the first Russian woman to attain the world number one position. She carried off the US Open in 2006, the Australian Open two years later and the career Grand Slam with her first of two French Opens in 2012.



Before she was rumbled for doing meldonium in January, she was still listed as the world’s richest sportswoman with staggering earnings of £21m snagged off the court over the past year. This was despite lifting the last of her five Grand Slam titles two years ago at the French Open.
There will be apologists who buy the protestations, but there can be no excuse for using a stimulant that had no business being anywhere near a professional athlete, one that was only taken to enhance performance on the court.


If tennis is to have a future, it must treat offenders like Sharapova without fear or favour.
It is probably wiser to listen to men like Andy Murray, who would not think of using such support to try to close the gap on Novak Djokovic.
“I think since January 1 there have been 55 different athletes who have failed tests for meldonium,” said Murray.


“I find it strange that there’s a prescription drug used for heart conditions and so many athletes competing at the top level of their sport would have that condition. That sounds a bit off to me.”
Indeed, Andy. And that was precisely the ITF’s conclusion too.



Sharapova’s conduct is an outrageous act of self-harming, but it has greater significance in trying to sell tennis as a ‘clean’ sport when one of its blue-chip brands has been up to no good on the side, whether or not she was in the know. Should we buy Sharapova’s insistence that she was unaware of what she was taking?



Parts of the ITF’s statement are as damning as they are well documented. Her management team is made to sound incompetent, and in parts, a bodybuilder juicing could put up a more coherent defence as to why she was dabbling in this stuff. She was on it six times in seven days at Wimbledon a year ago.
“In the tribunal’s view the answer is clear. Whatever the position may have been in 2006, there was in 2016 no diagnosis and no therapeutic advice supporting the continuing use of Mildronate. The manner of its use, on match days and when undertaking intensive training, is only consistent with an intention to boost her energy levels.



“It may be that she genuinely believed that Mildronate had some general beneficial effect on her health, but the manner in which the medication was taken, its concealment from the anti-doping authorities, her failure to disclose it even to her own team, and the lack of any medical justification must inevitably lead to the conclusion that she took Mildronate for the purpose of enhancing her performance.”
The blossoming spring and long hot summer of Sharapova’s gilded career seems destined to be blighted by a bleak dark winter without the luxury of a golden autumn.


Russia’s Maria Sharapova signs autographs after winning her third round match against Lauren Davis of the U.S. at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 22, 2016Russia’s Maria Sharapova signs autographs after winning her third round match against Lauren Davis of the U.S. at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 22, 2016
Russia’s Maria Sharapova signs autographs after winning her third round match against Lauren Davis of the U.S. at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 22, 2016



As sports fans, we should remain vigilant about who we put on pedestals in sport when we can never be sure what they are really up to.
Maria Sharapova’s demise can be attributed to a selfishness to gain an artificial edge. Her story is one of rags to riches, and even with the millions banked and the largesse, back to rags. From champion to cheat. And ultimately, cheating the sport that made her.


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Kate Middleton’s anger at Prince William over his lifestyle: ‘Making me look bad’



KATE MIDDLETON was left furious with Prince William after he was pictured dancing on a podium alongside another woman just days after another encounter in a nightclub.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have announced Kate will host a charity Christmas carol service at Westminster Abbey next week. Taking place on December 8, the event will be televised in the lead up to Christmas. Kate and William’s increasingly integral role within the Royal Family has also shown the strength of their relationship. Earlier this year, the Cambridges celebrated 10 years of marriage. They didn’t reach the milestone without challenging moments, however, as highlighted by a 2007 report.

It claimed that William had been seen dancing on a podium in Bournemouth, attracting the attention of another woman.

This came just days after newspaper reports claimed William was seen sharing an embrace with a woman while on a “boys’ night out” in Boujis, London.

The newspaper quoted a friend of Kate’s who said the Duchess sent a warning to William.

The friend said: “Kate told William that he was making her look bad.

“She has coped for years with girls flinging themselves at her boyfriend and, for a while, she found it humorous and even flattering.

“But after his recent behaviour she gave him an ultimatum and told him that every time he behaved like that in public he was cheapening her image as well as his own.

Kate Middleton news: William and Kate have taken on a big role in the Firm
“She told him she wasn’t prepared to be treated like a doormat and that his carefree behaviour was affecting her image.

“She gave him quite a pasting. In the past, she had always let go of things like that, but this really bothered her.”

A family friend of Kate’s added: “Kate rose above all the rumours and just laughed them off, but something recently snapped in her.

“She was irritated when she read about his flirting in Bournemouth and she wasn’t best pleased to hear about the blonde he ended up with on the dance floor at Boujis.”

Kate and William endured a tough year in 2007 when they briefly split.

Reports from April 2007 also claim that William broke up with Kate via a phone call that she received while at work.


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Naughty Boy’s unfortunate Meghan Markle error: ‘This is the future’



NAUGHTY BOY made a bold prediction about Meghan Markle’s place in the Royal Family, which sadly turned out to be far from the truth.

Naughty Boy, the music producer who is best known for hits such as Runnin’ and La La La, is already getting stuck into bushtucker trials as he stars in I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! He has also clashed with fellow campmate Kadeena Cox over cooking duties as the show begins in dramatic fashion. Naughty boy, whose real name is Shahid Khan, is used to keeping company with big stars, including members of the Royal Family. In February 2018, Naughty Boy performed for royalty as Prince Charles and Camilla hosted a gala dinner for the British Asian Trust.

He admitted he was “petrified” ahead of a performance for the royal couple at Buckingham Palace.

Naughty Boy said: “I was really petrified initially because there’s so much powerful energy here, but it felt right that I should be doing this.”

The DJ said: “I think this is part of the future. The whole culture is shifting to accepting just everything. For the Royal Family to spearhead that ‒ I think that’s amazing.”

Meghan’s life in the Royal Family was far from idyllic, however, as two years of regular criticism and tensions within the family culminated in the Sussexes leaving royal duties behind in 2020.

Meghan and Prince Harry later spoke about their life in the Royal Family with Oprah Winfrey.


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Will Andy Murray retire from tennis?



After producing a 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 comeback against Oscar Otte on Wednesday, a match played under the centre court lights with a sense of nostalgia, Andy Murray then bowed out of Wimbledon with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 defeat to Denis Shapovalov on Friday.

That loss once again raised the matter of his retirement. Murray almost retired once, but fought back from undergoing surgeries in 2018 and in 2019, operations that mean he now plays with a metal hip

t had seemed that the Scot was set to retire in 2019, so much so that a farewell video was prepared with messages from tennis legends and the other members of what had been ‘The Big Four’. That came as a shock to the three-time Grand Slam champion as he had never officially stated he’d hang up his racket. But, it did appear that the end was near.

His return at Wimbledon 2021
Murray was able to fight back from his injury nightmare, playing well in doubles and even winning another ATP men’s singles title at the 2019 European Open, his first since March of 2017.

Through a wildcard, he was able to enter Wimbledon in 2021 and spoke ahead of the tournament about how excited he was.

“A few years ago, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to play there ever again,” he told GQ.

“So, even though the last 18 months have been difficult from a tennis perspective, I’ve still been able to play a little bit.

“Unfortunately, I haven’t been at the level that I want as consistently as I wanted to, because of the injuries, but then again before the hip operation I also had come to terms with the fact that I might never play tennis again. So it’s been hard.

“But I’m still excited to be out there and getting the chance to compete in events such as Wimbledon.”

Murray hints at retirement
After bowing out of Wimbledon in the third round, though, Murray was more pessimistic when asked about his future.

“There is a part of me that feels a bit like I have put in so much work the last three months and, you know, ultimately I didn’t play how I would want and expect,” he said after his loss to Shapovalov.

“So, it’s like, is it worth it?”



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