BY Julian Yap Joe Nin
Meghan Trainor and Maria Sharapova.
Two big names.
One sings a famously annoying pop song that’s now overplayed everywhere on the mainstream radio.
You all know which song I am talking about – ‘All About That Bass’.
The other was at the top of her game when she beat Serena Williams and took home the Wimbledon title in 2004 at just 17 years old.
What do they have in common, aside from the obvious that they’re both blonde?
They are two accomplished women who are both making a huge comeback in their respective crafts of pop music and tennis.
Let’s start with Meghan Trainor.
I never really listen to her music. She is just not one of the first singers, whose music I would think of playing in the background while I’m cooking, ironing or even, relaxing.
One morning this week, I am simply sat on one of my two high bar stools in my house having breakfast – a glass of chocolate milk and fresh orange juice with lots of pulp, smashed avocado, two rashers of bacon and an omelette with ham, cheese, tomatoes and onions to top it all off.
I am watching the latest videos of ‘The Ellen Show’ and Meghan Trainor popped up.
As it turns out, she expressed being on the down low away from the media, the press and the public eye for three months since December 2015 following her second vocal cord surgery.
She couldn’t speak.
Her boyfriend and Spy Kids actor, Daryl Sabara, even learnt sign language to communicate with her.
This is not the first time that Trainor had vocal cord surgery – back in 2015, she had to have her hemorrhaged vocal chords repaired, which led to her cancelling her tour.
Did that mark the end of her career?
She sang live in front of an audience on The Ellen Show for the very first time since her surgery performing ‘I’m a Lady’ from the animated film Smurfs: The Lost Village.
And man, did she sound amazing!
I can’t imagine the bundle of emotions she must have felt the moment the music is being played and hitting that very first note, let alone, singing in front of an audience on LIVE TV!
To those of you who watch the TV show Nashville, this is how Trainor must have felt on that day.
Watch Connie Britton who plays Rayna James very closely – it’s all in her eyes.
The FEAR of having to meet a certain level of expectations from her fans is certainly daunting.
Same goes to Trainor.
Letting them down or disappointing her fans was simply NOT an option for her.
Not forgetting, Trainor is a brand on her own but also, a representative on behalf of the Smurfs film.
Having bestowed the honour and privilege of recording a song for this film or any film at all for that matter, which will be heard by millions or even, billions of people worldwide – this is HUGE in any singer’s career.
She should be commended for her performance.
It takes A LOT.
A lot of risk, bravery and courage to step back into the spotlight and showcase her craft for the first time after being out of practice for SO LONG coupled with the uncertainty of not knowing how the public would respond towards her.
Let’s see if her career continues to flourish from here on out or whether it has possibly peaked.
Trainor is not the only one here looking to make a successful comeback.
Let’s now turn our heads to Maria Sharapova.
What happened to her?
A drug scandal.
At the 2016 Australian Open in January, Sharapova failed a drug test, which resulted in her suspension from professional tennis for fifteen months – she tested positive for meldonium, a drug commonly used to treat heart problems by increasing blood flow but apparently has certain performance-enhancing properties.
Many Eastern European and Russian athletes have been known to take this drug due to the potential of a faster recovery, improved endurance and an increase in oxygen uptake.
Because of this, the drug was included on The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of banned substances at the start of 2016.
Sharapova, who’s Russian, was recommended by her doctor to take this drug, which she now has been taking for over ten years due to a magnesium deficiency and irregular EKGs, in her body.
Plus, her family also has a history of diabetes.
Seems to me, she was taking the drug for medical reasons.
But, this is what’s very interesting about her situation.
Sharapova claimed that ‘she did not get the memo’ – apparently, she failed to open an email link from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and WADA, notifying her that this drug is now prohibited.
However, WADA had repeatedly issued several notifications about the temporary ban on meldonium.
There is no way that not a single person in her team would have not been aware of this drug ban especially given the team’s size and competence and more importantly, Sharapova’s obsessive attention to detail – on the court, for example, she plays every single point as if it were a match point, like her life depended on it.
Even, her longtime agent and friend Max Eisenbud, failed to not only read the emails, which included a link to the updated list of banned substances, but also, check for newly banned substances at the beginning of the year.
However, it should also be noted that the ITF and WADA may not have necessarily performed their job very well either – when Sharapova tested positive for meldonium while the drug was not banned, neither of the two organisations informed her of the drug’s change in status.
On the other hand, meldonium is manufactured in Latvia and the pharmaceutical company disclosed that patients who take this drug would usually require a four-to-six-week course of treatment, which is usually repeated twice a year.
Sharapova has been continuously using this drug for over more than a decade now.
I don’t know what to think anymore.
Is she telling the truth?
Or, is she intentionally doping because it just works?
If that were the case, the drug is not helping her in any way – she has not won a tournament in nearly three years since the last major she won was the French Open back in 2014 against Simona Halep.
Has she reached the peak of her career?
Or is there more room for her to rise to the top?
Sharapova will be returning to the court when her suspension ends April 25 this year, which is just in time for her to play a warm-up tournament in Stuttgart, Germany and the French Open beginning on May 22.
Many including myself are very much looking forward to her anticipated return on the tennis court but just how easy will it be for her to get back into the game?
All eyes will be on Sharapova from the moment she walks through the tunnel and steps foot on the court.
Everyone will be observing her like a hawk.
If that’s not enough pressure, many brands including Nike, Head, Porsche, Evian and NetJets have suspended her contracts since the drug scandal.
But now, all of them are back on board except for premium Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer.
Sharapova’s comeback is a major moment for her after taking a break for nearly one and a half years.
It is MAKE OR BREAK.
DO or DIE (OK, maybe not that intense but you get the idea).
Sharapova must not only prove that she is back on the court as a ‘champion’, but also, show all her sponsors and endorsement brands that the risks they are taking to work with an elite athlete like her again is worth all the time, effort and money.
She needs to regain their trust BIG time and reassure them that this is that ‘one hiccup’, which will not happen again.
The big question on everyone’s minds including mine is whether one of the world’s highest-paid female athletes and tennis’s most bankable star can swiftly recover and pick herself back up from this huge downfall.
We shall see.