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World’s popular sports broadcaster ranks Sharapova 23rd in top-100 global athletes list

May 30, 21:41 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Maria Sharapova is the only Russian female athlete included in ESPN’s top-100 list

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© EPA/RONALD WITTEK

MOSCOW, May 30. /TASS/. World’s popular sports broadcaster ESPN has ranked Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova in 23rd place among the top-100 athletes around the globe.

The respected US-based TV-broadcaster came up on Tuesday with its new list of the world’s top 100 athletes, dubbed as "World Fame 100".

"Who are the most famous athletes on the planet?" ESPN challenged its readers on Tuesday adding that its director of analytics, "devised a formula that combines endorsements with social media following and internet search popularity to create the ESPN World Fame 100 rankings."

The list is topped by Portugal’s football guru Cristiano Ronaldo, who is followed by US NBA icon James LeBron and another world’s top footballer Lionel Messi in the closing spot of the world’s top-three.

Although ranked 23rd, Russia’s Sharapova is the third top female athlete in ESPN’s newly published rating list as she had been placed behind the US legend of mixed martial arts fighting, Ronda Rousey, (16th place) and US iconic tennis player Serena Williams (19th place).

No other Russian female athletes are included in ESPN’s top-100 list.

Over two weeks ago, Sharapova withdrew from the second-round match of the Italian Open during the game against Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. She had come from a set down to lead Lucic-Baroni 4-6, 6-3, 2-1, but was forced to pull out from in third set sustaining an injury to the left leg.

After sitting out a provisional 15-month suspension, Sharapova, 30, made an impressive comeback in April at the tennis tournament in Stuttgart knocking out all of her opponents up to the semifinals.

Sharapova’s performance at the tournament in Stuttgart returned her to the WTA rankings, from which she was excluded last October. In the most recent WTA ratings, issued on Monday, May 29, Sharapova was ranked in 178th place.

Although having no place in the WTA rankings earlier in the year due to the previously imposed suspension, the world’s former No. 1 Sharapova was granted wildcards for tennis tournaments in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome.

The tennis player was initially set to serve a two-year suspension for violating anti-doping regulations starting January 26, 2016. However, the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled on October 4, 2016 to cut her suspension term from 24 to 15 months.

Early last year, Sharapova announced that doping tests revealed the presence of the banned performance enhancing drug, meldonium, in her body. Following the announcement, the tennis star was provisionally suspended from all tennis-related activities, including the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

Sharapova is Russia’s most decorated tennis player having won a total of five Grand Slam tournaments, namely the Australian Open in 2008, the French Open in 2012 and 2014, Wimbledon in 2004 and the US Open in 2006.

She also clinched the silver in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and was the 2008 Federations Cup champion.

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