Tennis racket manufacturer Head plans to keep its sponsorship deal with Maria Sharapova, despite the revelation that she used banned, performance-enhancing drugs.
The five-time grand slam winner admitted she tested positive for the recently banned drug meldonium at the Australian Open. This led to Nike, Tag Heuer and Porsche cutting ties with the Russian tennis player.
However, Head praised Sharapova’s “honesty” and “courage” in a statement outlining plans to continue paying Sharapova to use its rackets.
The statement said: “For more than a decade Maria Sharapova has been a role model and woman of integrity who has inspired millions of fans around the world to play and watch tennis. The honesty and courage she displayed in announcing and acknowledging her mistake was admirable.”
“Head is proud to stand behind Maria, now and into the future and we intend to extend her contract. We look forward to working with her and to announcing new sponsorships in the weeks and months ahead,” the statement added.
Nike and Tag Heuer have suspended their multi-million dollar sponsorship deals with the former world number one. Business Insider reported that the suspended Nike deal was worth an estimated $100 million over eight years.
Sharapova has been provisionally banned as the International Tennis Federation decides her punishment, The Guardian reported.
Last night Sharapova posted a message of thanks to her fans for their support.
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