New York - Maria
Sharapova will once again be a UN goodwill ambassador when her doping
ban expires in April and she returns to international tennis
competition, a UN statement said on Thursday.
The United Nations had suspended Sharapova's role as goodwill
ambassador in March after she failed a drug test, putting a hold on a
nine-year partnership with the UN Development Programme.
"UNDP was glad to learn that Maria Sharapova can return to the sport
she loves sooner than expected and we will lift the suspension of her
role as our goodwill ambassador once the reduced ban expires in April
2017," said a UNDP spokesperson.
"We understand that Ms. Sharapova will be focused on resuming her
tennis career and we look forward to discussing her role and engagement
with UNDP at an appropriate date."
Last month, the Russian star's 24-month ban for testing positive for
meldonium was cut to 15 months by the Lausanne-based Court of
Arbitration for Sport.
Sharapova, 29, had admitted using meldonium for 10 years to help treat illnesses, a heart issue and a magnesium deficiency.
As a goodwill ambassador, Sharapova has been active in helping recovery efforts after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
The tennis sensation has made visits to Belarus and donated $100 000
to support youth projects in rural areas that suffer from the
after-effects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
Sharapova's family fled the city of Gomel in Belarus in 1987 after
the Chernobyl disaster, moving to Siberia where the tennis star was
The family lived in Nyagan, Siberia for two years and then moved to
Sochi on the Black Sea where Sharapova took her first tennis lessons.