California: World No 1 Novak Djokovic has given his support to Maria Sharapova and said he hopes she "gets out of this stronger".
Maria Sharapova ahead of her announcement in Los Angeles (Pic/AFP) and Novak Djokovic
Women's tennis' most bankable star made the stunning announcement on Monday that she had failed a drug test for meldonium at the Australian Open. Djokovic and Sharapova share a racquet sponsor and Djokovic has famously done impressions of the Russian on court.
He told TMZ.com: "I obviously wish her all the best. I've known her for a long time. I feel for her with all that's happening and I just hope she gets out of this stronger."
Lack of support
Chris Evert has expressed surprise at the lack of support within tennis for Sharapova. The predominant response has been shock at how one of tennis' most professional and meticulous players could fail to take notice of warnings that a drug she had been taking for 10 years had been added to the banned list.
There have been some messages of support, with Sharapova's great rival Serena Williams praising her courage in taking responsibility for her mistake. But others have been less charitable.
Evert, who won 18 grand slam singles titles, told ESPN: "Sharapova has always isolated herself from the rest of the tennis world. She's made that known, she can't be friends with the players. I'm not seeing a lot of support from a lot of the players. I think everyone is being mum.
It's just incredulous to me because she has such a very comprehensive and a very professional team. For everybody in the tennis world, Maria Sharapova is the last person we'd expect this to happen to."