Serena Williams, the top-ranked player in women's tennis, said on 8 March that she was shocked to hear her rival Maria Sharapova had failed a drug test, but she commended the Russian for showing courage in taking responsibility.

Williams, the world No1, spoke to reporters at a briefing ahead of a match in New York. Responding to a question about the Sharapova drug case she said: "Well, I think, like everyone else said, most people were surprised and shocked by Maria.

"At the same time, I think that most people were happy that she was up front and was very honest and showed a lot of courage to admit to what she had done and what she had neglected to look at, in terms of the list at the end of the year. It's just taking the responsibility which she admitted that she was willing to do and ready to do, and I just hope for the best for everyone in that situation,"

"I think in sport and in life, there's always a double standard, always, and I think that's something that no one is – everyone knows whether it's a race thing or a sex thing, there's always been a double standard that's different. However, this is a different thing and I think as Maria said she's ready to take full responsibility and I think that showed a lot of courage, a lot of heart. I think she's always showed courage and heart in everything that she's done, and this is no different."