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5 reasons Serena Williams deserves ‘respeck,’ Maria Sharapova banned from tennis

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 26, 2016: Grand Slam champion Serena Williams of United States (L) and Maria Sharapova of Russia after quarterfinal match at Australian Open 2016 at Rod Laver Arena (Photo Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 26, 2016: Grand Slam champion Serena Williams of United States (L) and Maria Sharapova of Russia after quarterfinal match at Australian Open 2016 at Rod Laver Arena (Photo Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com)

Finally! News about Serena Williams being the highest paid female athlete just broke this week. For 11 years in a row, rival Maria Sharapova, 29, outranked her as the world’s highest-paid female athlete despite the fact Williams was better on the court, with a 19-2 record against Sharapova, beating her in every meeting since 2005. Williams who’s won 21 Grand Slam titles, racked up more than $77 million in prize money and earned the title of Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year four times, including 2015.

It was announced on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 that the Russian professional tennis player, who is ranked world No. 9 by the Women’s Tennis Association has been banned for two years for failed drugs test but she says she will appeal.

The ITF said Sharapova tested positive for meldonium (a heart disease drug) in an out-of competition test on February 2, as well as following her Australian Open quarter-final defeat by Serena Williams on January 26. She says she was unaware it had been added to the banned list as she knew it by another name, mildronate.

Sharapova writes on Facebook:

“Today with their decision of a two year suspension, the ITF tribunal unanimously concluded that what I did was not intentional. The tribunal found that I did not seek treatment from my doctor for the purpose of obtaining a performance enhancing substance. The ITF spent tremendous amounts of time and resources trying to prove I intentionally violated the anti-doping rules and the tribunal concluded I did not. You need to know that the ITF asked the tribunal to suspend me for four years – the required suspension for an intentional violation — and the tribunal rejected the ITF’s position.

“While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension. The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“I have missed playing tennis and I have missed my amazing fans, who are the best and most loyal fans in the world. I have read your letters. I have read your social media posts and your love and support has gotten me through these tough days. I intend to stand for what I believe is right and that’s why I will fight to be back on the tennis court as soon as possible.

“Love Maria

“P.S. My lawyer prepared a short summary of how the ITF process works so I thought I would pass it along to my fans so you too can be aware of what the ITF rules call for.”

Sponsors including Nike and Porsche suspended their ties with Sharapova and TAG Heuer and American Express opted not to renew deals with her. Avon, Evian, and Head all stayed by her side.

While Sharapova is appealing, Williams is counting the $28.9 million she’s earned in the past 12 months, with $20 million of that sum from endorsements and flipping the pages of Glamour magazine where she graces the July 2016 cover.