Maria Sharapova shared an emotional message with fans telling them she is ‘determined to play tennis again’ as she was pictured laughing as she trained on the beach.
The five-time Grand Slam champion sensationally admitted on Monday that she had tested positive for meldonium, a now-banned drug she had been taking for a decade, during the Australian Open in January.
The International Tennis Federation has confirmed Sharapova will be provisionally suspended from the sport from March 12, but has not said how long her suspension will last.
Despite this, the 28-year-old looked carefree as she worked out on a beach in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
She is continuing to wear Nike sportswear, despite the company announced it was suspending its relationship with the embattled star hours after Monday’s press conference.
But despite her carefree demeanor on the beach, she shared a post on Facebook – her first since the revelation – in which she revealed the toll the ordeal has taken on her.
In the post, Sharapova said she ‘wished she didn’t have to go through this’ but insisted she was ‘determined to play tennis again.’
‘I woke up yesterday morning [Tuesday] 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. 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.’
She added: ‘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.’
Sharapova was spotted dressed head-to-toe in Nike gear on Tuesday and drove her Porsche to the supermarket – even though both brands have suspended their relationship with her after her revelation..
She hit the gym in Los Angeles wearing black Nike leggings and a black Nike sweatshirt.
The brand ended her most lucrative deal, an eight-year contract extended in 2010 for a reported $8.5 million a year, just hours after her announcement on Monday.
In a statement on Monday night, Nike said: ‘We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova. We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues. We will continue to monitor the situation.’
Sharapova has lost at least $14 millions worth of sponsorship contracts in the past 24 hours and doesn’t know yet how her career will be affected. She then drove her Porsche to Whole Foods, this time wearing white Nike sneakers.
Porsche, another one of her major partners with a deal worth $2.8million, said that while they are ‘certainly not dumping’ Sharapova, they are currently ‘not pursuing any further activities’ with her.
Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer followed suit, saying its contract with Sharapova had expired at the end of 2015 and it has pulled out of negotiations on a new agreement.
The contract was also priced at $2.8 million. Her other partners, Avon, Evian and Head, have yet to comment.
But in the face of her troubles, Sharapova thanked her fans for their support, writing: ‘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.
‘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.’
Sharapova stunned world tennis when she announced that she had failed a drug test for meldonium at the Australian Open earlier this year.
The medication, which she said she had legally taken throughout her career, was placed on the banned list by the World Anti-Doping Agency in January following ‘evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance’.
On Monday, she said she did not realize the substance was now illegal, but took ‘full responsibility’ for her actions.
She has accepted a provisional suspension and will find out the full sanction she faces after a tribunal hearing expected to take place in April.
Meanwhile, Serena Williams praised Sharapova for her ‘courage’ in disclosing her failed drug test, saying she had shown ‘a lot of courage’.
‘I think most people were happy she was upfront and very honest,’ Williams said during a news conference for a Madison Square Garden event on Tuesday.
‘It’s just taking responsibility, which she admitted that she was willing and ready to do,’ Williams added. ‘Just hope for the best for everybody in that situation.’
‘I think she’s always shown courage and heart in everything she’s done, and this is no different.’
Despite Sharapova’s suspension, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation has said he expects her to play in the Olympics in Brazil in August this year.
Meldonium, the drug that caused her to fail the test, also known as Mildronate, was legal for most of Sharapova’s career but was banned on January 1.
The Russian athlete said she received an email from WADA informing her of the changes but didn’t look at the list.
She said during her news conference that she was initially given meldonium in 2006 by her ‘family doctor’ and kept taking it for a decade due to health issues such as a magnesium deficiency and a genetic disposition towards diabetes.
However, the drug which is mainly available in Eastern Europe is said to have become a drug of choice for Russian athletes implicated of cheating in other sports.
It was regularly given to Soviet troops in the 1980s to boost their stamina.
Latvian manufacturers that make meldonium have now said that the substance is normally prescribed for medical use for four to six weeks – much shorter than Sharapova’s course of treatment.
A Grindeks spokesman said: ‘Depending on the patient’s health condition, treatment course of meldonium preparations may vary from four to six weeks.
‘Treatment course can be repeated twice or thrice a year. ‘Only physicians can follow and evaluate patient’s health condition and state whether the patient should use meldonium for a longer period of time.’
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