On Sunday, Maria Sharapova announced that she would give a press conference with a “major announcement” this Monday, at 12:00 PST. Many expected (feared) that she would announce her retirement from tennis, others thought that she was about to announce her pregnancy.

However, this is not what happened and the news shocked the whole tennis world:

“I wanted to let you know that a few days ago I received a letter from the ITF that I had failed a drug test at the Australian Open. I take full responsibility for it.”

Sharapova tested positive to meldonium, a substance that she was taking in a medication prescribed by her family doctor since 2006, but which is prohibited since the 1st of January of this year (until then, it was legal). But she does not cast the blame on anyone but herself, as she admitted having received an email from WADA in December with the list of proscribed substances and not having checked the list in question. “I made a huge mistake”, she said. “I’ve let my fans down, I’ve let the sport down. I know that, with this, I will have consequences, and I don’t want to end my career this way. I really hope that I will be given another chance to play this game.”

Despite the seriousness of the situation, the ex-number one was able to make some humour: “I know many of you thought that I was announcing my retirement, but if I were ever to announce my retirement, it would probably not be in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet.”

Sharapova suspended as of 12 March

Minutes after the Russian made her announcement, the ITF released a statement saying that she “has accepted the finding of meldonium in her sample collected on 26 January” and “will be provisionally suspended with effect from 12 March, pending determination of the case”.

As the Russian said when questioned: “I have to take full responsibility for it because it’s my body and it’s what I put into my body, and I can’t blame anyone for it but myself.”

But regardless of what those consequences will be, the news open the door to yet more speculation about doping in tennis.

Following the match-fixing scandal that, ironically, came out just before the Australian Open, the news put yet another blemish on the sport. However, we have to give credit to Maria Sharapova for making the announcement herself, and to own up to what she did.

(Photo: Getty Images)