Sharapova's ban reduction joy

Sharapova's ban reduction joy

Maria Sharapova can return to tennis in April 2017 after her two-year drugs ban was reduced to 15 months on appeal.

The 29-year-old Russian was banned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in June after she tested positive for meldonium, a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), following her Australian Open quarter-final defeat by Serena Williams on January 26.

The two-year ban was dated back to January which meant Sharapova was set to be sidelined until early 2018 which prompted her to lodge an appeal.

The five-time Grand Slam winner argued that she had had been taking the drug for around 10 years due to health issues and not to enhance her performance, while she pointed out that there was a lack of warning issued by Wada, the ITF or the WTA about a change in the status of meldonium which only became banned from January 1, 2016.

As a result, the Court of Arbitration for Sport decided to take nine months off the initial ban period, which will see the former world number one back on the court on April 26.

Sharapova said: "I am counting the days until I can return.

"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."