Maria Sharapova took to her Facebook page on Wednesday to thank fans for their support amid her doping scandal.
"I woke up yesterday morning with an inbox, in full capacity of love and compassion," the 28-year-old Russian tennis star wrote. "On average, I love the mornings. New day, new start. It is fair to say that this day was not average. Nothing came to mind at 6am, except that I am determined to play tennis again and I hope I will have the chance to do so. I wish I didn't have to go through this, but I do - and I will."
Sharapova announced on Monday that she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open, testing positive for banned substance meldonium. The 2014 French Open champ and 2012 Olympic silver medalist claimed at her press conference 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.
"I have not been online much except the odd search for a new antique coffee table (random, I know), but my friends made a collage for me with all your beautiful messages and hashtags that you created (#IStandWithMaria and #LetMariaPlay)," Sharapova wrote, adding that she had noticed the "good old paparazzi" following her as she ventured to the gym on Tuesday. "I spent the afternoon reading them next to my dog, who couldn't quite understand why this was more important than the walk he was expecting to take."
"In this moment, I am so proud to call you my fans," she continued. "Within hours of my announcement, you showed me support and loyalty, which I could only expect to hear when someone would be at the top of their profession."
Sharapova's longtime rival, Serena Williams, spoke out about the scandal on Tuesday, praising the tennis star's "honesty" and "courage" in admitting to her alleged mistake.
"I wanted to let you know that your wonderful words put a smile on my face," Sharapova, who is facing a possible suspension as a result of the failed test, concluded. "I'd like to play again and hope to have the chance to do so. Your messages give me great encouragement. This message isn't anything else but to say thank you. Thank you very much."