Maria Sharapova says the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) decision to reduce her doping ban from two years to 15 months has provided her with “one of my happiest days”.
The Russian was initially suspended until January 2018, after testing positive for the banned substance meldonium at this year’s Australian Open.
However, Sharapova claimed to be unaware that meldonium had been added to WADA’s prohibited list at the start of 2016 and an appeal to CAS has resulted in her sanction being reduced by nine months.
Sharapova will therefore be free to return to the court in April 2017 and said in a statement: “I’ve gone from one of the toughest days of my career last March when I learned about my suspension to now, one of my happiest days, as I found out I can return to tennis in April.
“In so many ways, I feel like something I love was taken away from me and it will feel really good to have it back.
“Tennis is my passion and I have missed it. I am counting the days until I can return to the court.”
The 29-year-old says that her case should be a lesson to the International Tennis Federation and other anti-doping agencies to ensure other players avoid a similar fate.
The statement added: “I have learned from this, and I hope the ITF has as well. CAS concluded that ‘the Panel has determined it does not agree with many of the conclusions of the [ITF] Tribunal…’
“I have taken responsibility from the very beginning for not knowing that the over-the-counter supplement I had been taking for the last 10 years was no longer allowed.
“But I also learned how much better other Federations were at notifying their athletes of the rule change, especially in Eastern Europe where Mildronate [another name for meldonium] is commonly taken by millions of people.
“Now that this process is over, I hope the ITF and other relevant tennis anti-doping authorities will study what these other Federations did, so that no other tennis player will have to go through what I went through.”
Sharapova also she had a message of thanks to her fans.
“And to my fans, (Hello SharaFamily!), I thank you so much for living and breathing so many of these tough months together,” she said.
“During this time, I have learned the true meaning of a fan and I am so fortunate to have had your support.
“I’m coming back soon and I can’t wait.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas claims innocence after Andy Murray vents anger at…….
Stefanos Tsitsipas denied bending the rules with his bathroom breaks during his dramatic five-set victory over Andy Murray at the US Open.
Scot Murray, 34, blasted the Greek third seed for the “nonsense” and said he had lost respect for him after Tsitsipas disappeared off court for almost eight minutes at the start of the fifth set.
However, after closing out a 2-6 7-6 (7) 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory over the 2012 champion in just less than five hours, Tsitsipas said: “If there’s something that he has to tell me, we should speak, the two of us, to kind of understand what went wrong.
I don’t think I broke any rules. I played by the guidelines
“I don’t think I broke any rules. I played by the guidelines, how everything is. I don’t know how my opponent feels when I’m out there playing the match. It’s not really my priority.
“As far as I’m playing by the rules and sticking to what the ATP says is fair, then the rest is fine. I have nothing against him. Absolutely nothing.”
Murray’s defeat, and that of Marin Cilic, who had to retire at two sets all against Philipp Kohlschreiber, means there is only one player left in the men’s draw to have won a grand slam title – the 20-time major winner Novak Djokovic.
Daniil Medvedev, the second seed from Russia, got his bid for a maiden grand slam title off to a confident start by beating Richard Gasquet in straight sets.
The 25-year-old roared past Frenchman Gasquet 6-4 6-3 6-1 in less than two hours.
RBA drops just games to advance to Round 2.
Nick Kyrgios won just seven games as his campaign came to an end at the hands of Roberto Bautista Agut.
Australian Kyrgios threw in his usual tweeners and underarm serves but Bautista Agut, the unflappable 18th seed from Spain, was too solid as he ran out 6-3 6-4 6-0 winner.
Andrey Rublev, the Russian fifth seed, is safely through after a straight-sets win over Croatian veteran Ivo Karlovic.
Usain Bolt reveals he’s ‘always’ had a crush on Beyoncé and he was starstruck to meet her
He may hold the title as the fastest man in the world, but even Usain Bolt gets nervous once in a while, especially when it comes to meeting beautiful women. Speaking to Lorraine Kelly on Friday morning, the nine-time Olympic gold medallist revealed that he has a crush on none other than Beyoncé.
The sporting legend revealed his celebrity crush live on Lorraine
“Because I was always a fan, I’ve always had a crush on Beyoncé, so I’ve always had a conversation I would have [in my head] and when I met her I was like [stares open-eyed] ‘hi’,” he told the day time host. “I could tell I was looking at her weird because she was looking at me like, ‘why is he staring at me’. It was fun though.”
President Obama also has an affect on the 30-year-old, who admitted: “When I met Obama that was also massive for me.”
Usain was on Lorraine to chat about his new documentary I Am Bolt, which follows the sporting legend in the 18 months leading up to his historical Olympic triple win in Rio this year.
Talking about his training, Usain revealed: “People always say, ‘you make it look so easy, I could probably do it’ and I’m like, ‘no, no’. So to make people see the work that I put in and the strain that goes in, mentally and physically. I wanted people to see all of that so they could understand me better and to see the work I put in is no joke.”
The Olympic champion also shut down rumours that he was engaged to his main crush, girlfriend of two years, Kasi Bennett, following a heavily hinted Snapchat image of the couple on holiday. The sweet snap was accompanied by the caption “She said yes”, complete with emojis of a bride and a love heart.
“I’m not engaged. Me and my girlfriend, we went on a trip to Bora Bora and we took a picture and somebody edited my Snapchat, and edited it, and it said, ‘she said yes’ with a ring and a mad face and stuff and I was like [shocked face], it was well done though. It was well done, you know what I mean,” he explained.
Despite there being no talk of wedding bells anytime soon, it hasn’t stopped Usain’s mum from hoping she will be a grandmother in the near future. “My mum is pressuring me. I was like, ‘mum just let me retire and I’ll get there,'” he said.
Unbelievable: Maria Sharapova says she got mobbed in the Olympic village cafeteria
Many players prefer not to stay at the Olympic village as other athletes tend to get a little star struck at coming face to face with high profile superstars. Maria Sharapova got a taste of this herself when she went into the cafeteria at the Olympic village.
Sharapova is the highest earning female athlete in the world and a global superstar. “I’m usually pretty naïve about like people’s knowledge of me, my career, what I’ve achieved,” Sharapova told the press after her first round win on Sunday in London.
“I try to be pretty humble about it, but the biggest mistake I’ve made in a long time was entering the cafeteria. I didn’t walk out eating any food. I barely got an orange juice. It was quite funny. Actually, I didn’t sign any autographs, it was just pictures. I felt like a little statue.”