Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams had a strong rivalry on and off court — but not anymore. With the Russian tennis player’s recent doping scandal, not only has she been banned from competing, but has also lost all of her important sponsors, which made her the richest female athlete.
So now, brand sponsorship and competitive tennis is in the hand of Serena Williams.
“Serena Williams may soon become the richest endorser in women’s tennis, if only by default. Williams frequently comes in second to Sharapova on lists of the highest-paid female athletes. But Sharapova now faces a suspension and loss of sponsorship from several companies after she announced Monday that she had tested positive for meldonium, a banned substance.” according to New York Times.
Because of this drug allegations, the world number 7 has already lost sponsorship from Nike, TAG Heuer, and Porsche, according to USA Today.
While Serena Williams has maintained a strong rivalry with the Russian player, when it came time to comment about the doping incident, she decided to remain professional and calm.
“Like everyone else, most people were surprised and shocked,” she said to New York Times. “But most people are happy with the fact she was upfront with what she had done in terms of what she had neglected. With that being said, she’s taking responsibility, which she was ready to do.”
The rivalry between the Russian and the American extends beyond tennis, net worth and popularity. They have also gone against each other to compete for the attention of Grigor Dimitrov, a young tennis player often compared to Roger Federer.
This particular rivalry ended with Maria emerging as the winner. She went on to date the Bulgarian tennis player for over two years before breaking up in 2015, according to Daily Mail.
Not everyone has been able to maintain a professional approach when it came to responding to Maria Sharapova’s doping scandal. In fact, the former World Anti-Doping President Dick Pound went as far as to call the player “stupid,” according to USA Today.
Right before she shook the tennis community with her meldonium intake, the Russian athlete was enjoying the life of the world’s most successful female athlete. She attended Vanity Fair‘s Oscar party wearing a beautiful white dress, which showed off her tall and slim figure.
Check out the tweet that she posted about her Oscar party experience below.
She also has been using Twitter to promote many of her sponsors such as TAG Heuer. In light of her drug test, this particular tweet feels somewhat ironic.
Looks like this time Maria Sharapova has “cracked under pressure.”
Now that the Russian has been suspended, her rival Serena Williams is now ramping up to a career that will be challenged by none. She alluded to now having become the most successful female athlete in the world in an Instagram caption she uploaded for International Women’s Day.
“Here’s to women’s STRENGTH, BEAUTY & BRILLIANCE just like a diamond! After all you are unbreakable. #DIAMONDSUNLEASHED #INTERNATIONALWOMENSDAY,” she wrote on her Instagram.
Now Serena Williams’ dominance on court will indeed be “unbreakable” with Maria Sharapova suspended from competitions.
This has not been a good year for the Russian tennis player. After her breakup with Grigor Dimitrov and enduring a string of persistent injuries, Maria Sharapova now has to face the doping charges.
Do you think she will be able to bounce back from such career-threatening allegations? Or do you think Serena Williams will now take full reigns of WTA? Sound off in the comments section below with your thoughts on the future of Maria Sharapova’s career.
[Photo by Kevork Djansezian /Getty Images]