Maria Sharapova’s racket manufacturer Head has launched a remarkable defence of the Russian star after her doping ban was reduced from two years to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The company swiftly took to social media to congratulate itself on standing by Sharapova, who will now be able to return to the game in time for the French Open next year.
In contrast to other sponsors including Nike, Tag Heuer and Porsche, Head stuck by Sharapova after she tested positive for the heart-boosting drug meldonium.
Yesterday, alongside a picture of Sharapova, the company tweeted: “Congratulations to @Maria Sharapova! #WeStoodWithMaria #headtennis”.
Sharapova had appealed against the length of the ban to CAS, but she did not appeal against the guilty verdict. But in a statement, Head chief executive Johan Eliasch appeared to recognise the CAS ruling as a sign of victory, saying: “Head would firstly like to congratulate Maria on justice being served. We eagerly await her return to competitive tennis in April 2017 and we are very proud to have stood by Maria for the right reasons throughout these difficult and testing times for both Maria and those who have supported her all over the world.”