June was an interesting month for some of my former sports clients. Golfer Dustin Johnson’s triumphant victory in the 2016 U.S. Open was bookended by Maria Sharapova’s two-year suspension from tennis for testing positive for meldonium. The next two years will be a critical moment in her career. At 29, she is in the early days of what may be the final chapter of her professional career. How she responds to the suspension will help shape her enduring reputation—and the value of her brand in the future.
What she should do for the next 24 months is what Lance Armstrong initially failed to do—to rededicate herself to a cause that’s higher than her individual achievements. Perhaps she can help educate others on the perils of performance-enhancing drugs. In any event, she needs to accept her situation, learn from it, and create something positive from the experience.
I’ve also had the privilege of working with Jordan Spieth, Cam Newton, Vince Young, and Serena and Venus Williams. But Dustin Johnson and Maria Sharapova stand out as sports figures who have had to deal with triumph and tragedy.