Maria Sharapova was once at the pinnacle of the tennis world before her retirement and now the Grand Slam winner has opened up on her shock 15-month suspension, which left her ‘disgusted’.
Sharapova battled crippling injuries during her glittering career, which saw her complete a career Grand Slam, win 36 WTA titles, and spend 21 weeks as WTA World No.1.
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But her 15-month suspension after testing positive for a banned substance had fans around the world in disbelief.
The original ban was reduced from two years to 15-month after the Court of Arbitration for Sport found in a hearing that Sharapova was at "no significant fault” and "under no circumstances ...can the player be considered to be an 'intentional' doper."
Now, in a new Movistar+ documentary on the 33-year-old, Sharapova has revealed the heartbreaking toll the doping ban took on her life.
"That morning I woke up and felt like I was preparing for a game. It is very hard to think that you have to face the world and say that you have screwed up everything,” she said.
“After the press conference, I deleted all social networks from my phone, to protect myself, keep sanity and protect myself from opinions and judgments. I think I have never been concerned with what people think of me, but suddenly this happens and you see that you care what they know.”
“And that disgusted me, it was a very unpleasant feeling,” she added.
‘Had to take control’: Sharapova
Sharapova admitted her family played a crucial role in helping her get through one of the toughest periods in her career.
“My mother...spent weeks sleeping with me so that I was accompanied,” she said.
"My father also accompanied me a lot to make sure that nothing went wrong, that I didn't start blaming others.
"You had to take control and know that you screwed up."
Siberia-born Sharapova, whose Wimbledon victory over Serena Williams in 2004, aged 17, propelled her to superstardom and riches, retired in February this year.
The former world No.1 had only played two matches this year, losing in the first round of the Australian Open, with her ranking sliding to 373.