Early success, flashes of brilliance, fight against injuries, heartbreaking defeats, a “career Grand Slam”, and more – Maria Sharapova‘s career has had it all. But the one incident that made the most headlines for Maria Sharapova through all of this was her shocking 15-month suspension from the sport. This came in the wake of her using a banned substance called ‘Meldonium’ back in 2016.
A documentary on the former Russian tennis superstar was released by Movistar+. It gives a detailed account of the period of her suspension. It also includes previously unpublished material from Sharapova’s career.
Mentally challenging period for Maria Sharapova
At the beginning of the documentary, a visibly emotional Sharapova speaks about the mental challenge she faced before addressing a press conference back in early 2016 where she was to publicly announce the results of her doping test.
“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,” said the five-time Grand Slam champion.
— #Vamos de Movistar+ (@vamos) July 22, 2020
According to the portal puntodebreak.com, the former world number one said, “After the press conference [of March 7, 2016] 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.”
Her family played a large role in helping her get through the difficult phase. She said, “My mother told me that nothing would happen if I could never play tennis again. She spent weeks sleeping with me so that I was accompanied. My father also accompanied me a lot to make sure nothing went wrong, that he didn’t start blaming others. You had to take control and know that you screwed up.”
Sharapova has always maintained that she consumed Meldonium for medical purposes for years. She said she was unaware of its introduction in the list of banned substances months before her doping test was taken.
A two-year suspension followed her announcement, which was then reduced to 15 months. This was because it was found that she could not be termed as an ‘intentional doper’.
The Russian star had a difficult return to the sport since her ban ended. The final match of her career was a first-round defeat to Donna Vekic. Thi happened at the Australian Open in January this year. She announced her retirement from the sport soon after, at the age of 32.