Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams have been long-time rivals on the tennis court. While Serena has shown time and time again that she’s the best player in the current era – maybe in any era, for that matter – Maria has always stepped up to the challenge of trying to beat her. Maria Sharapova always came up short. Interestingly, Sharapova was named the top earner out of all female athletes in 2015, as revealed by Forbes. Maria can thank her long list endorsements for that.
While they’re certainly rivals, Serena had some good words for Maria when she was asked about the failed drug test before a Tuesday exhibition match at the Madison Square Garden, the Guardian reports. In a statement, the current World No. 1 player praised the five-time Grand Slam champion for showing a lot of courage and accepting responsibility for her actions.
“I think like everyone else said most people were surprised and shocked by Maria. But at the same time I think most people were happy that she was upfront and very honest and showed a lot of courage to admit to what she had done and what she had neglected to look at.”
“As Maria said, she’s ready to take full responsibility and I think that showed a lot of courage and a lot of heart,” Williams added.
Maria Sharapova said in a press conference on Monday that she tested positive for the drug meldonium, which got included in the list of banned substances under the World Anti-Doping Agency code this year. The 28-year-old Russian athlete failed the dope test on the day she lost to Serena at the Australian Open in January.
In her statement, Maria Sharapova said that she’s been taking meldonium since 2006 – as per her doctor’s advice – to address her health problems, which include regular sicknesses, potential diabetes, and irregular EKG results. Maria noted that she received WADA’s email containing the updated list of banned substances in December of last year. Sharapova, however, didn’t click on the link, a decision she now regrets.
Now that Maria Sharapova is facing a potential ban from playing professional tennis for up to four years on account of her failed drug test, it’s more than likely that Serena Williams will be the highest-earning female athlete by the time the next Forbes list comes around. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Nike and Tag Heuer just severed their business ties with Maria following her shocking announcement.
Maria Sharapova’s former coach Nick Bollettieri told BBC that he was shocked when he found out about Maria’s failed drug test, saying that “she has always been above board in everything.” He, however, added that “Everybody must accept responsibilities for everything they do in life.”
Other professional tennis players, in addition to Serena Williams, also took the time to share their thoughts on Maria Sharapova’s failed drug test. The reactions have been pretty varied, with Jennifer Capriati’s Twitter tirade (shown below) being the most notable on account of its evident hostility towards Maria Sharapova.
“Some questions still have to be asked and it’s very difficult at the moment to give an opinion. What I can say is it’s not good for the game.”
“Rules are important, rules have to be respected so that’s the thing we can say today. But I am still a little bit sad about all of this.”
“The situation is pretty difficult but I think there is a lot we still have to understand. It can be a mistake. But it depends how they (investigators) take it and how they feel about the situation.”
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA via Twitter
“Hold your horses everyone – about Maria – I don’t have all the facts, I hope it’s an honest mistake, stuff was legal as far as I know till 2015.”
Hold your horses everyone- about Maria- I don't have all the facts, I hope it's an honest mistake,stuff was legal as far as I know till 2015— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) March 7, 2016
“When we take any medication, I think we double and triple and quadruple check. Sometimes, even things like cough drops or nasal sprays can be on the list. So I think, as athletes, we always make sure there’s nothing in it that can put us in a bad situation.”
JAMES BLAKE via Twitter
“Wow. Classy of @MariaSharapova to hold a press conference for this and admit making a mistake. Definitely agree that have to be aware though.”
Wow. Classy of @MariaSharapova to hold a press conference for this and admit making a mistake. Definitely agree that have to be aware though— James Blake (@JRBlake) March 7, 2016
JENNIFER CAPRIATI via Twitter (tweets have reportedly been deleted)
“I’m extremely angry and disappointed. I had to lose my career and never opted to cheat no matter what. I had to throw in the towel and suffer.”
“I didn’t have the high priced team of drs that found a way for me to cheat and get around the system and wait for science to catch up. The responses are exactly what i am talking about. Everything based on illusion and lie driven by the media for over 20 yrs. Beyond unfair.”
These are but some of the Twitter reactions that came out of the woodwork since Sharapova admitted failing her drug test. How about you? What’s your take on Maria Sharapova’s situation? Do you think this failed drug test will end Maria’s career? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Photos by Quinn Rooney and Michael Dodge/Getty Images]