Maria Sharapova has faced many opponents and challenges during her legendary tennis career in the Women's Tennis Association, but the most ferocious opponent and dangerous challenge she has ever faced just might be the game she's currently playing with her doctors, her inner circle of trusted confidants and the World Anti-Doping Agency, known as WADA. Last week Sharapova owned up to her failed Australian Open drug test for Meldonium and admitted guilt, but was it too little too late?

The critics are harsh, but the fans are loyal

Many people are wondering why Maria Sharapova used Meldonium with a doctor's prescription for a decade. Fans are standing by Maria, offering support through social media, but there's also been dissent from within the tennis world, including current players on tour and past legends. It's safe to say that few women players on tour are household names, but Maria and players like Serena Williams, Chris Evert and Jennifer Capriati are among the few that have transcended the game into popular culture.

Capriati, who has had her share of unwanted media attention during her career, tweeted about the situation.

Meanwhile, Serena Williams, currently the No. 1 ranked player in the WTA with 9245 points, has been silent on the matter at her official Twitter account. Chris Evert didn't tweet her opinion on the matter, instead she went on "Sports Center" to express her opinion.

Evert told "Sports Center" that Maria, "Can’t be friends with the players.

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Her friendships are outside of the tennis world, she’s isolated herself." Evert went on to say, "I’m not seeing a lot of support from a lot of the players." Evert has won 18 Grand Slam singles titles in tennis and regularly serves as a commentator during Grand Slam events.

What is Meldonium?

Put simply, Meldonium is considered a performance enhancing drug that increases oxygen in the blood stream.

It's also used for heart conditions and the use of the drug has been banned by WADA since January of 2016. At the official WADA website Meldonium is listed as a substance that is banned at all times, on and off the court. Meldonium is listed under S4, hormone and metabolic modulators. While Maria Sharapova has said that she didn't read the emails sent to her that warned her once legal prescription would soon be banned, and that the links sent to her were buried and difficult to maneuver, a test of simplicity on the WADA website shows that with two clicks on the correct links the information is readily available to read.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not approve the newly banned Meldonium, which is manufactured in Latvia and commonly used by athletes in the Russian Federation.

Key sponsors distancing relationship

Forbes estimated that, despite only winning two titles in 2015, Sharapova earned $29.5 million dollars, with $23 million earned from activities off the court. Since disclosing the failed drug test results Sharapova has had sponsors such as Nike, Tag Heuer and Porsche cut relations and lucrative sponsorship deals with her.

Time will tell if the relationships are temporarily suspended or if the big money deals are over for Sharapova in the wake of the failed drug test results. For now, racquet sponsor Head is sticking with Sharapova, but it's anyone's guess right now how long it will be before Maria returns to the game she loves and has made her rich and famous. Sharapova currently faces a 2-4 year ban from tennis and it's uncertain if she could ever return to her former glory after that long away from the game.

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