Tennis star faces criminal probe over real estate project

Maria Sharapova of Russia returns a shot against Simona Halep of Romania during the Women's singles 3rd round on day five of 2017 China Open at the China National Tennis Centre on October 4, 2017 in Beijing, China.

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NEW DELHI -- Maria Sharapova is being investigated by police in India in a cheating and criminal conspiracy case involving a real estate company who used the tennis star to endorse a luxury housing project that never took off.

Real estate firm Homestead Infrastructure is accused of taking tens of millions of rupees (millions of dollars) from home buyers for a project named "Ballet by Maria Sharapova," a luxury apartment complex with its own helipad, tennis academy and other amenities. The five-time Grand Slam champion travelled to India in 2013 to launch the project at a glitzy ceremony. Police began the investigation on Nov. 16.

Piyush Singh, a lawyer representing one of the home buyers, said Sharapova's celebrity was the reason most people put their money into the project.