Using Twitter, a wide array of fans and prominent tennis players expressed support for Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, whose recent announcement that she had failed a drug test immediately made international headlines.
Retired Czech and American tennis player Martina Navratilova, who was selected by the Tennis magazine as the greatest female tennis player for the years 1965 through 2005, warned against jumping to conclusions.
Hold your horses everyone- about Maria- I don't have all the facts, I hope it's an honest mistake,stuff was legal as far as I know till 2015— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) 7 марта 2016 г.
Navratilova was echoed by American tennis player Ryan Harrison, who also described Sharapova taking the drug meldonium as an "honest mistake.
Maria handled that so well. In my opinion, honest mistake from a great champion.— Ryan Harrison (@ryanharrison92) 7 марта 2016 г.
Noted US tennis coach Brad Gilbert pointed the finger at Sharapova's team when touching upon the scandal.
Still stunned that nobody on Shazza team checked new list from wada, players are responsible but this is big time oversight on team as well— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) 7 марта 2016 г.
Retired American tennis player Michael Russel, for his part, gave kudos to Sharapova's strength of mind during a press conference.
Maria handled the press conference with class, however all pro athletes should be well aware of what they are taking.— Michael Russell (@MRusselltennis) 7 марта 2016 г.
Echoing him was a Twitter user nicknamed SAAR who also heaped praise on Sharapova's spiritual strength.
I still support #Sharapova. She has the guts to come out & own it.— SAAR (@WriterIntrovert) 7 марта 2016 г.
A Twitter user with the nickname Jen did not think twice before touting Sharapova as "always my champ."
This mistake does not demerit all of the great achievements you have, I'll support you till the end always my champ Maria Sharapova— Jen. (@jenniferkm16) 7 марта 2016 г.
The drug scandal came days after Sharapova announced that she would not be participating in the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, due to a left forearm injury.
The 28-year-old is ranked as the 6th best tennis player in the world by the Women's Tennis Association, and ranked number 1 in singles on five separate occasions. Born in Siberia, she has played professionally since 2001, when she was only 14-years-old.
Think Sharapova has well and truly been stitched up by the ITF and her doctor. Shouldn't have a lengthy ban. Fully support her.— Andrew Morgan (@Andyyy_M) 7 марта 2016 г.
Sharapova is the only Russian to hold the career Grand Slam, and earned Russia a silver medal for women's singles during the 2012 Summer Olympics.