October 4, 2016 / 1:39 PM / a year ago

Sharapova says she cannot wait to return after ban reduced

LONDON (Reuters) - Russia’s former world number one Maria Sharapova said she could not wait to return to tennis in April after her drugs ban was reduced to 15 months on Tuesday.

Maria Sharapova of Russia competes against Samantha Stosur of Australia in their women's singles match at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris June 1, 2014. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File Photo

“Tennis is my passion and I have missed it. I am counting the days until I can return to the court,” The 29-year-old told her fans on Facebook.

Sharapova, a five-times grand slam champion, was originally handed a two-year ban - backdated to start on Jan. 26, 2016 - by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in June following a positive test for the drug meldonium.

“I’m coming back soon and I can’t wait,” said Sharapova who is now free to return to action on April 26 next year.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond

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