The International Tennis Federation announced yesterday that Maria Sharapova was banned from tennis for two years. It follows her failed drug test before the Australian Open in January. Now, Serena Williams has become the top-earning female athlete in the world.
Atlanta Black Star reported in March Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, which the star admitted to using supposedly before she knew the World Anti-Doping Agency added it to its list of banned drugs Jan. 1. Sharapova claimed she used the drug to treat diabetes and other ailments. But it was learned the drug enhances athletic performance by increasing blood flow.
In the wake of the revelation, the Russian athlete has lost several endorsement deals, including Porsche and Tag Heuer. The latter decided to stop re-negotiation of their 10-year contract with the five-time Grand Slam title holder.
But not all sponsors dropped Sharapova, who announced plans to appeal the ban in the Court of Arbitration of Sport. The Associated Press reports racket supplier Head and bottled water brand Evian will join previously nixed Nike in supporting the 29-year-old.
Still, the loss of endorsements allowed Williams – who has voiced support for Sharapova – to take over as the world’s highest-paid female athlete according to Forbes. The 21-time Grand Slam champion was always poised to reach the top spot, regardless of her fellow athlete’s demise.
Yet ABS reports the 34-year-old has always played second to Sharapova, even though she has won four times as many titles, not including her 13 doubles Grand Slam titles earned with sister Venus. Additionally, the 5’9″ Saginaw, Michigan native earned nearly twice as much as the 6’1″ blonde throughout each of their careers in the Women’s Tennis Association. Williams has brought in close to $70 million compared to Sharapova’s $35 million.
The racial double standard means Sharapova can keep her titles and sponsors will continue to endorse her. Had the same thing happened to Williams, her sponsors would quickly vanish as would her titles.