Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova was recently seen in action for the Elton John AIDS Foundation match at Las Vegas Getty

Steve Simon, CEO of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has hailed Russian tennis ace Maria Sharapova and said that she has shown a tremendous level of integrity during her ban.

Simon is also looking forward to the Russian's return on court and noted that "fans and everyone else is going to be excited to see her once again".

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

Even as he heaped praise on the Russian player's manner in which she has conducted herself since receiving the ban, he admitted that Sharapova had paid for her mistake.

"We're looking forward to seeing her back on tour. I do believe the fans and everyone else is going to be excited to see her back as well. She's gone through a long and difficult year going through this process. I think she's shown a tremendous level of integrity," he said, according to CON.

"Maria owned up to everything she did. We wish all athletes and people would own up to what they do and take responsibility for their actions. She did, she's gone through the process. She received no special considerations due to her celebrity status."

The tennis star was recently excluded from WTA rankings as she had not competed in enough tournaments in 2016 to be eligible for a rank. WTA regulations state that to maintain a place in the rankings, a player should take part in a minimum of three tournaments and accumulate at least 10 ranking points in the previous 52 weeks.

Nonetheless, the WTA CEO added, "She's paid a hefty fine. She's lost all her ranking, she's lost 15 months of income. That's a significant hit for anybody. She's paid her dues and she's available to come back when her suspension will end in spring."

Sharapova will officially return to competitive tennis on 26 April 2017.