STANFORD : Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova returned to the courts for the first time since she sustained a thigh injury three months ago, winning 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 over United States' Jennifer Brady at Stanford Classic first round. Sharapova was injured during Italian Open second round in May, weeks after she returned to action from a 15-month doping ban, reports Efe.
"I feel like I just want to hug everyone and say thank you," Sharapova said in an on-court interview.
"It's my first match in the States in a really long time and it's the closest thing to home for me. The welcome has been incredible and finally playing so close to home was really special," she added.
The 30-year-old needed two hours on Monday and two minutes to secure her win and a place in the tournament's second round.
After Brady recovered from a slow start clinching the second set, she paid for missing two break points early in the third set, as Sharapova won six straight games.
Sharapova played her first competitive match in North America since Miami Open 2015 to tune up for US Open.
The Russian player, who has a wild card entry, is set to play in the second round against Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko, No.7 seed, who got the better of Spanish Lara Arruabarrena 6-3, 6-3.
"All that matters is that I keep playing. As long as I'm the one winning the last point, I get to play another match, and another. The more I play, the better I'll do. That's the goal," she said.
Croatian Ana Konjuh, No.5 seed, also advanced to the second round as her rival, New Zealand's Marina Erakovic, was forced to retire due to injury when the latter was 6-3, 1-0 down.