Tennis star Maria Sharapova to return as UN goodwill ambassador after expiry of ban

Maria Sharapova will once again be a UN goodwill ambassador when her doping ban expires in April and she returns to international tennis competition.

AFP November 11, 2016 11:19:13 IST
Tennis star Maria Sharapova to return as UN goodwill ambassador after expiry of ban

New York City: Maria Sharapova will once again be a United Nations (UN) goodwill ambassador when her doping ban expires in April and she returns to international tennis competition, a UN statement said Thursday.

The UN had suspended Sharapova's role as goodwill ambassador in March after she failed a drug test, putting a hold on a nine-year partnership with the UN Development Programme.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova to return as UN goodwill ambassador after expiry of ban

Maria Sharapova's ban for testing positive for meldonium will expire in April next year. Getty Images

"UNDP was glad to learn that Maria Sharapova can return to the sport she loves sooner than expected and we will lift the suspension of her role as our goodwill ambassador once the reduced ban expires in April 2017," said a UNDP spokesperson.

"We understand that Ms Sharapova will be focused on resuming her tennis career and we look forward to discussing her role and engagement with UNDP at an appropriate date."

Last month, the Russian star's 24-month ban for testing positive for meldonium was cut to 15 months by the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Sharapova, 29, had admitted using meldonium for 10 years to help treat illnesses, a heart issue and a magnesium deficiency.

As a goodwill ambassador, Sharapova has been active in helping recovery efforts after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The tennis sensation has made visits to Belarus and donated $100,000 to support youth projects in rural areas that suffer from the after-affects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

Sharapova's family fled the city of Gomel in Belarus in 1987 after the Chernobyl disaster, moving to Siberia where the tennis star was born.

The family lived in Nyagan, Siberia for two years and then moved to Sochi on the Black Sea where Sharapova took her first tennis lessons.

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