maria sharapova.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Doha Stadium Plus Qatar, used under CC BY

Maria Sharapova took to Facebook on Wednesday to thank fans for massive online support after her positive test for a newly banned medicine which she has been taking for a decade.

"I woke up yesterday morning with an inbox in full capacity of love and compassion," the five-times grand slam champion posted on the social media site. "In this moment, I am so proud to call you my fans.

"Within hours of my announcement, you showed me support and loyalty, which I could only expect to hear when someone would be at the top of their profession. I wanted to let you know that your wonderful words put a smile on my face.

"I'd like to play again and hope to have the chance to do so. Your messages give me great encouragement. This message isn't anything else but to say thank you. Thank you very much."

Sharapova is awaiting word on her sanction after getting in front of the story on Monday in a media conference during which the 28-year-old former number one explained that she had been taking the now-banned Eastern European medicine meldonium since 2006 on prescription from her doctor.

The biggest earner in all of women's sport and one of the public faces of the WTA, faces a ban which could possibly be mitigated by circumstances, according to her attorneys. No decision is due until after the completion of a probe by the International Tennis Federation.

"New day, new start. It is fair to say that this day was not average," Sharapova wrote. "Nothing came to mind at 6am, except that I am determined to play tennis again and I hope I will have the chance to do so. I wish I didn't have to go through this, but I do - and I will.

"I needed to sweat, to push through and grind as I have done most of my life, so I made my way to the gym. That's when I realized a bunch of tinted-window cars were following me. The good old paparazzi, back on the trail."   

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