Maria Sharapova can start playing tennis again in April.
That was the ruling of the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday after hearing an appeal from Sharapova over her two-year doping ban. The court reduced the Russian tennis star’s sentence to 15 months after determining that she had not been intentionally doping and acted with “no significant fault.”
“I’ve gone from one of the toughest days of my career last March when I learned about my suspension to now, one of my happiest days, as I found out I can return to tennis in April,” Sharapova said in a statement. “In so many ways, I feel like something I love was taken away from me and it will feel really good to have it back. Tennis is my passion and I have missed it. I am counting the days until I can return to the court.”
The CAS ruling means she will miss each of tennis’ Grand Slams once through suspension and will be eligible to pursue her sixth major title starting with the 2017 French Open.
Sharapova was suspended by the International Tennis Federation after she tested positive at the Australian Open for meldonium, a Latvian-made heart drug. An ITF panel found that the Russian did not intend to cheat.
The 29-year-old Sharapova acknowledged taking meldonium before each match in Melbourne, saying she was not aware it had been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.