maria sharapova
Maria Sharapova is currently suspended due to taking a banned substancegetty

Former women's world number one Maria Sharapova will resume her role as the United Nations goodwill ambassador once her doping ban expires in April and she returns to competitive action, the UN has confirmed.

Sharapova had signed a partnership with the UN development programme in 2007. The United Nations had suspended the Russian's role as goodwill ambassador in March following her failed drug test at the Australian Open in January, 2016.

"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", a statement read as quoted by channel news Asia.

"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.

The 29-year-old was banned from the sport for two years after she failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open. Sharapova was found guilty of using the banned substance Meldonium, however he sentence was reduced to 15 months after she appealed against the ban at the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS).

The tennis star had admitted to using Meldonium for 10 years to treat illnesses, a heart problem and magnesium deficiency, saying that even her family had been using the drug and that it was not considered a banned substance in Russia.

Sharapova was very active in her role as the UN goodwill ambassador in the past, taking a keen interest in helping those affected by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster while also donating $100,000 to support youth projects in rural areas that suffer from the after-effects of the nuclear accident.

The Chernobyl disaster is personal to the superstar with her family fleeing the city of Gomel in Belarus due to the incident.