Serena Williams spoke out about Maria Sharapova's failed drug test on Tuesday, praising her pro tennis rival for her honesty and courage.
"I think most people were surprised and shocked by Maria but at the same time most people were happy that she was just upfront and very honest and showed a lot of courage to admit to what she had done and what she had neglected to look at," Williams said at a press conference in New York, where she is set to play Caroline Wozniacki in an exhibition match.
Sharapova announced the news at a press conference in Los Angeles on Monday, admitting that she had tested positive at the Australian Open for banned substance meldonium. The 28-year-old Russian tennis star claimed that she had simply made a mistake by continuing to take the anti-ischemic drug Mildronate -- also known as meldonium -- after it was added to the list of banned performance-enhancing drugs in January.
"She's always showed courage in everything that she's done. And this is no different," Williams said of her longtime rival.
Williams, 34, also said she wasn't worried about the impact of the scandal -- and Sharapova's potential ban -- on the sport of tennis.
"I'm not concerned, I think there's a lot of great stars," she explained. "There's a lot [of] people that play tennis. I think that there's a lot of personalities."
Nike and Porsche have suspended their sponsorship deals with the Russian tennis star in the wake of the scandal and Swiss watch company TAG Heuer said it would not renew its marketing contract with Sharapova, which expired at the end of 2015.