Sharapova to be reinstated as UN ambassador

The United Nations has confirmed that Maria Sharapova will be reinstated as a UN goodwill ambassador when she returns from her suspension for using a prohibited drug expires next April.

The UN said it was looking forward to working with the Russian to discuss her role at a future date.

"The UNDP is 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 UN statement read.

"We understand that Ms Sharapova will be focused on resuming her tennis career and we look forward to discussing her role and engagement with the UNDP at an appropriate date."

Sharapova was handed a two-year ban by an investigating tribunal after admitting to taking the substance meldonium at the Australian Open in January – just one month after it became a banned substance.

Her suspension was later reduced to 15 months after she filed an appeal.

Sharapova was appointed as a goodwill ambassador by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in February 2007, but was suspended in March after her doping admission.