Russian former tennis world number one Maria Sharapova says she deleted all social media apps from her phone in order to stop herself “going crazy” after being banned from the sport in 2016 due to doping violations.
Sharapova was handed a 15-month ban due to her use of meldonium in January 2016, the same month it was added to the WADA list of banned substances, and has recently opened up about the immediate aftermath, which included deleting all social media to avoid “judgement”.
“After the press conference, I deleted all social media apps from my phone to protect myself from being judged and not to go crazy,” the five-time Grand Slam winner said, according to the Punto de Break tennis blog.
“I thought I’ve never worried about what other people thought of me, but after the incident I realized that it was important to me. I was very upset. It was unpleasant to feel so insignificant,” she admitted.
The Russian also noted what she considered mistreatment by the ITF, whom she believes accused her of lying about ingesting the substance, which she claims is false.
“The ITF insisted that I was hiding the use of meldonium, and this has nothing to do with the truth. It was cruel and painful,” she said. “I didn’t ask to be allowed to play [tennis] the next day, I just wanted to be treated with respect. I am always ready to fight for what I consider my right.”
The ban marked an important turning point in the player’s career, after which she struggled to regain the form that had made her a star of the sport. She retired in February at the age of 32.