Maria Sharapova: Racket manufacturer Head extends endorsement deal despite failed drugs test

Joe Hall
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Headstrong: The tennis racket brand is standing behind Sharapova (Source: Getty)

Under-fire tennis star Maria Sharapova has been given a commercial boost after racket manufacturer Head extended their sponsorship of the Russian, despite revelations of a failed drugs test.

Head praised the five-time grand slam champion's "honesty and courage" in admitting she had tested positive for banned substance meldonium at the Australian Open in January.

The firm's commitment to continue working with Sharapova contrasts starkly with sponsors Nike, Tag Heuer and Porsche who moved to distance themselves from the former world No1 earlier this week.

Read more: Money, not morality, behind Sharapova's sponsor exodus

"The honesty and courage she displayed in announcing her mistake was admirable. Head is proud to stand behind Maria, now and into the future and we intend to extend her contract," read a statement from the company.

"We look forward to working with her and to announcing new sponsorships in the weeks and months ahead.

"Maria may have made a mistake, but she has earned the benefit of the doubt and we are extending it to her. We look forward to many more years of working with Maria."

Sharapova said on Monday that she had taken meldonium for 10 years for medicinal reasons and was unaware the World Anti-Doping Agency had banned the substance at the beginning of 2016.

The 28-year-old five-time grand slam winner has been provisionally suspended from tennis starting on March 12 by the International Tennis Federation.

Other tennis stars with sponsorship deals from Head include Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, who holds an outspoken anti-doping stance.

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