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Sharapova to play in Vegas exhibition next week

Maria Sharapova, pictured on January 26, 2016, will play in the World Team Tennis Smash Hits event at Caesars Palace © AFP/File / Peter Parks

LOS ANGELES, United States, Oct 5 – Maria Sharapova will return to a tennis court for the first time since the reduction of her doping ban next week when she appears in an exhibition event in Las Vegas, it was confirmed Wednesday.

Sharapova will play in the World Team Tennis Smash Hits event at Caesars Palace on Monday, which is hosted by Billie Jean King and Elton John, with proceeds going to the Elton John Aids Foundation.

“I am really excited to get back on the court for a great cause,” said Sharapova.

“I have been wanting to play this event for Billie and Elton for a long time so I am looking forward to a great night of tennis.”

The Russian star’s participation comes after her 24-month ban for testing positive for meldonium was cut to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday.

Sharapova, 29, had admitted using meldonium for 10 years to help treat illnesses, a heart issue and a magnesium deficiency.

She said she was unaware the substance had been added to the banned list by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on January 1, shortly before her positive test.

The CAS decision means Sharapova will be able to return to action next April.

Also playing in next week’s event in Nevada are John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Martina Navratilova, Mardy Fish and Mark Philippoussis.

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