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Sharapova unfazed by criticism following doping ban

As she nears a return to action on the WTA Tour, Maria Sharapova claims the harsh words of her fellow competitors are of no concern.

MariaSharapova - Cropped
Maria Sharapova in action at the 2016 Australian Open

Maria Sharapova insists she has spent no time worrying over criticism from her fellow professionals surrounding her return to the WTA Tour.

The five-time grand slam champion has been out of action following her suspension for failing a drugs test at last year's Australian Open.

Sharapova was initially banned for two years after testing positive for meldonium, which she said she had been taking for a decade due to health problems and had not realised it had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list at the start of 2016.

Following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Sharapova – who insisted she had "not tried to use a performance-enhancing substance" – saw her suspension reduced to 15 months.

As a result, she will be able to make a comeback at the Stuttgart Open next week, which has drawn the ire of the likes of Caroline Wozniacki and world number one Angelique Kerber.

But Sharapova remains unfazed.

"That is the least of my concerns," she told Stern magazine.

"I haven't wasted a single thought on it. I know that I am respected in my field. I see it in how my opponents play against me."

Sharapova also expressed her displeasure at the way the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and its anti-doping boss Stuart Miller failed to notify her of meldonium's altered status.

"He didn't want to know anything about it," she said. "And for me, that is proof that he didn't do his job properly.

"At the ITF, they should make sure the athletes are informed about the new doping rules.

"I take responsibility for my part, but there are other people who could have taken action. And they belong to the ITF."

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