The Tennis world was rocked this week when Maria Sharapova stepped forth and admitted she was using a banned substance between matches, although the Russian star stated she was unaware she broke the rules. Serena Williams, the world’s reigning No. 1 women’s singles player, expressed her amazement at the news while graciously praising Sharapova for taking full responsibility for her actions, the New York Times reports.
Williams spoke ahead of an exhibition match against Caroline Wozniacki at Madison Square Garden in New York, just a day after Sharapova held a press conference in Los Angeles regarding her use of the heart drug, meldonium.
During today’s press conference in New York, Williams was asked about the loss of endorsements that has made Sharapova the richest female athlete including the sponsor they share in Nike.
“They’re successful. They make their own decisions,” Williams said Tuesday, before an exhibition match at Madison Square Garden against her good friend Caroline Wozniacki. “They obviously know how to make decisions.”
Williams and Sharapova have been two of Nike’s most visible spokeswomen in recent years. Last year, Sharapova reportedly earned $23 million in endorsements, while Williams’s total was around $13 million. Sharapova has won five major titles to Williams’s 21. Nike, along with TAG Heuer and Porsche, quickly suspended ties with Sharapova after her news conference Monday.
Williams expressed her surprise at Sharapova’s announcement.
“Like everyone else, most people were surprised and shocked,” she said. “But most people are happy with the fact she was upfront with what she had done in terms of what she had neglected. With that being said, she’s taking responsibility, which she was ready to do.”
While Williams answered questions in her typically straightforward fashion, she did not think Sharapova would be made an example of by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) or the International Tennis Federation (ITF). She reiterated her support of Sharapova, expressing that it took “courage and heart” to confess to the use of the drug.
Wozniacki was slightly less diplomatic, stating that Sharapova should have taken better preparations and checked the banned drug list in order to not jeopardize her career.
Williams also deflected questions regarding Sharapova’s drug use and if it gave her an advantage during their several matches.
SOURCE: NYT | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty | VIDEO CREDIT: Inform