More than 48 hours after announcing she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open, Maria Sharapova has broken her silence by thanking her fans for their continued support and vowed to return to professional tennis one day in a detailed statement posted on her Facebook page.
Sharapova Thanks Fans for Continued Support
In a Facebook post published Wednesday, Sharapova broke her silence by delivering a heartfelt message to her fans in the wake of her shocking announcement.
"I woke up yesterday [Tuesday] morning with an inbox, in full capacity of love and compassion," she wrote. "The first email I immediately opened was from my best friend, you know, the type of person who can make you smile and cry with only one word and who I spent the evening on the phone with, checking up on me, how was I doing?"
"On average, I love the mornings. New day, new start," she continued. "It is fair to say that this day was not average. Nothing came to mind at 6am, except that I am determined to play tennis again and I hope I will have the chance to do so.
"I wish I didn't have to go through this, but I do - and I will."
Ever since she made the announcement, the paparazzi have found Sharapova out and about and training in California with her team, though she is provisionally suspended until the ITF reviews the case later this month.
"I needed to sweat, to push through and grind as I have done most of my life, so I made my way to the gym. That's when I realized a bunch of tinted windowed cars were following me. The good old paparazzi, back on the trail," she wrote sarcastically.
Though she has not been much instead to look up a new antique coffee table for architectural purposes, Sharapova says her friends have sent her collages of messages from her fans that use the hashtags #IStandWithMaria and #LetMariaPlay, which have swept social media in the last 48 hours.
"In this moment, I am so proud to call you my fans. Within hours of my announcement, you showed me support and loyalty, which I could only expect to hear when someone would be at the top of their profession," Sharapova wrote.
"I wanted to let you know that your wonderful words put a smile on my face. I'd like to play again and hope to have the chance to do so. Your messages give me great encouragement."
"This message isn't anything else but to say thank you. Thank you very much," she concluded.
Update on Sharapova's Anti-Doping Situation
Ever since the Russian made the announcement, there have been interesting developments in this case. Firstly, just hours after making the announcement, three of Sharapova's biggest endorsers have decided to suspend their professional relationship with the former world number one as the investigation continues. On Tuesday, Latvian drug manufacturer Grindeks told the Associated Press that the normal treatment for Meldonium is four to six weeks, not ten years like Sharapova has suggested.
However, the most interesting development came just hours after the announcement. Former world number one and current Tennis Channel commentator Lindsay Davenport revealed on Monday that she had attended a private meeting with Sharapova's lawyers. In that meeting, Davenport has stated that the lawyers had the documentation which clearly showed that the five-time Grand Slam champion did list her use of Meldonium prior to her failed drug test. The correct documentation of Sharapova's use of the newly-prohibited substance could be pivotal in the final verdict of this case, as the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) and International Tennis Federation (ITF) are likely going to be more lenient with Sharapova's punishment when presented with this evidence.