While a Tuesday press conference was supposed to highlight World Tennis Day, the annual celebration didn’t get much airtime. Instead, most questions focused on Maria Sharapova’s Monday announcement that she failed a drug test at this year’s Australian Open.
World No.1 Serena Williams and two-time year-end World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki spoke about the revelation.
“I think like everyone else said most people were surprised and shocked by Maria,” Williams said. “Most people were happy that she was upfront and very honest and showed a lot of courage to admit to what she had done and what she had neglected to look at in terms of the list at the end of the year.”
Sharapova, who lost to Williams in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open this year, said she had been taking a drug called meldonium since 2006. The drug was added to a banned list of substances in 2016.
Wozniacki explained that as a tennis pro, she pays special attention to what she consumes. “Any time we take medication, we double and triple check because sometimes even things like cough drops and nasal sprays can be on the list,” she said. “As athletes, we always make sure to really make sure there’s nothing in it that could put us in a bad situation.”
Williams continued, “It’s just taking the responsibility, which she was willing to do and ready to. I hope for the best for everyone in that situation.”
During the conference, Williams was also asked Nike’s decision to suspend its endorsement deal with Sharapova. Williams, who is poised to become the world’s highest-paid female athlete after the Russian’s announcement, demurred. “I can’t comment on Nike,” said Williams who is endorsed by the company. “I think they’re a successful, huge billion dollar company and make their own decisions and obviously know how to make great decisions.”
“We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova,” Nike said in a statement. “We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues. We will continue to monitor the situation.”
“I have let my fans down, and let the sport down that I have been playing since age of four that I love so deeply,” Sharapova said. “I know that with this I face consequences and I don’t want to end my career this way. I really hope to be given another chance to play this game.”