Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport

Maria Sharapova drugs test failure: Novak Djokovic backs under-fire tennis star 'to come out stronger'

By Eleanor Crooks

Published 10/03/2016

Towering achievement:Maria Sharapova shows off the trophy after her second win at the French Open in Paris
Towering achievement:Maria Sharapova shows off the trophy after her second win at the French Open in Paris
Maria Sharapova is looking to win another Grand Slam
Huge error: Maria Sharapova, who could be banned for two years, announces that she didn't realise Meldonium is prohibited
Maria Sharapova says she accepts that she has failed a drugs test
Maria Sharapova of Russia serves in her third round match against Lauren Davis
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova
Short shrift: Maria Sharapova ignored grunting question
Maria Sharapova
Under fire: Maria Sharapova beat Coco Vandeweghe in three sets but was accused of moving during her rival's serve
Tough test: Maria Sharapova celebrates win over Zarina Diyas
Maria Sharapova ruled out a future coaching career
Point taken: Maria Sharapova on her way to victory
Johanna Konta in action against Maria Sharapova during day one of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 29, 2015. See PA Story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Maria Sharapova in action against Johanna Konta during the First round women's singles during day one of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 29, 2015. See PA Story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Russia's Maria Sharapova reacts after winning her women's singles first round match against Britain's Johanna Kontaduring on day one of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2015. Sharapova won 6-2, 6-2. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE -- AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRKGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
Russia's Maria Sharapova (L) shakes hands with Britain's Johanna Konta after winning their women's singles first round match on day one of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2015. Sharapova won 6-2, 6-2. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE -- AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRKGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
Britain's Johanna Konta serves to Russia's Maria Sharapova during their women's singles first round match on day one of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2015. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE -- AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRKGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Johanna Konta of Great Britain serves in her Ladiess Singles first round match against Maria Sharapova of Russia during day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Maria Sharapova of Russia plays a forehand in her Ladiess Singles first round match against Johanna Konta of Great Britain during day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova serves in her Ladies Singles first round match against Johanna Konta (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Russia's Maria Sharapova serves to Britain's Johanna Konta during their women's singles first round match on day one of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2015. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE -- AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRKGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
Russia's Maria Sharapova returns to Britain's Johanna Konta during their women's singles first round match on day one of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2015. Sharapova won 6-2, 6-2. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE -- AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRKGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
Maria Sharapova in action Johanna Konta during day one of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 29, 2015. See PA Story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Maria Sharapova of Russia serves in her Ladies Singles first round match against Johanna Konta of Great Britain during day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
On song: Jo Konta is ready to face Maria Sharapova
Making a racket: Maria Sharapova returns a shot in her Wimbledon build-up
Maria Sharapova has reached three consecutive finals at Roland Garros
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova defeated seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard 6-3 6-2 in 78 minutes
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates winning against Caria Suarez Navarro of the Spain during day five of the China Open at the China National Tennis Center on October 1, 2014 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Emmanuel Wong/Getty Images)
Caroline Wozniacki
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova
Going home: Reality begins to sink in for Maria Sharapova after the Russian was well beaten by Angelique Kerber
Major run: Maria Sharapova is hoping to add Wimbledon to the French Open title she won last month
HSBC is the main sponsor of Wimbledon, where Maria Sharapova plays her first match today
Maria Sharapova is picked up by racing driver Mark Webber and driven to the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) pre-Wimbledon party
Maria Sharapova is picked up by racing driver Mark Webber and driven to the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Pre-Wimbledon Party
Maria Sharapova
Open race: Maria Sharapova celebrates winning her women's singles semi-final match against Eugenie Bouchard at the French Open
Sealed with a kiss: Maria Sharapova celebrates her win yesterday
Maria Sharapova of Russia serves during her women's singles match against Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria on day four of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 28, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a backhand during the final against Ana Ivanovic of Serbia on day seven of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix 2014 at Porsche-Arena on April 27, 2014 in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates victory in the final against Ana Ivanovic of Serbia on day seven of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix 2014 at Porsche-Arena on April 27, 2014 in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images)

World No.1 Novak Djokovic has given his support to Maria Sharapova and said he hopes she "gets out of this stronger".

Women's tennis' most bankable star made the stunning announcement on Monday that she had failed a drugs test for Meldonium at the Australian Open.

Djokovic and Sharapova share a racquet sponsor and Djokovic has famously done impressions of the Russian on court.

He said: "I wish her all the best. I've known her for a long time. I feel for her with all that's happening and I just hope she gets out of this stronger."

Read more: Maria Sharapova: Knock-out drugs cheats says Carl Frampton

Chris Evert, though, has expressed her surprise at the lack of support for Sharapova.

The predominant response has been shock at how one of tennis' most professional and meticulous players could fail to take notice of warnings that a drug she had been taking for 10 years - which she says was for health reasons - had been banned.

There has been some support, with Sharapova's rival Serena Williams praising her courage in taking responsibility for her mistake.

But others have been less charitable. Three-time Grand Slam champion Jennifer Capriati wrote on Twitter: "I didn't have the high priced team of doctors that found a way for me to cheat and get around the system and wait for science to catch up."

Read more: Maria Sharapova drug test failure: Tennis star feels heat as cost adds up

Evert, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, said: "Maria Sharapova has always isolated herself from the rest of the tennis world. She's made that known, she can't be friends with the players.

"I'm not seeing a lot of support from a lot of the players.

"Whether it's shock or whether they don't want to become involved or have an opinion, it's surprising that not a lot of players have shown their support."

Sharapova has accepted a provisional suspension and will find out after a tribunal hearing what sanction she faces. The Russian admitted she received a link to the list of banned substances in December but did not click on it.

Read more: Maria Sharapova drugs test failure: Russian has got several questions to answer

Evert said: "Maria is the last person we'd expect this to happen to. To me, it's a good warning to all the superstars. It doesn't matter who you are."

The Russian has seen major sponsors Nike, Tag Heuer and Porsche all distance themselves from her. Sharapova, the world's highest-earning female athlete for the last 11 years, faces losing a big chunk of her income but skincare company Supergoop is standing by her.

Sharapova signed a deal to be the face of the brand, which focuses on sun safety, in 2014 as well as becoming co-owner with founder Holly Thaggard.

Thaggard: "While we are surprised and disheartened by Maria Sharapova's recent announcement, we value our relationship as a co-owner and ambassador.

"We appreciate Maria's candour and will support her as the ITF investigation unfolds."

The ITF, meanwhile, confirmed Sharapova missed five opportunities in December alone to learn that Meldonium had become a banned substance.

Belfast Telegraph

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph