Smil­ing Shara­pova plays Las Ve­gas char­ity event

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

MARIA SHARA­POVA set foot on a ten­nis court for the first time since her pos­i­tive drug test at the Aus­tralian Open yes­ter­day, smil­ing through­out an ap­pear­ance in the World Team Ten­nis Smash Hits char­ity event in Las Ve­gas.

The Rus­sian star, who last week earned a re­duc­tion in her drug ban that will al­low her to re­turn to ten­nis in April, played in two light­hearted dou­bles matches in the event at Cae­sar’s Palace to ben­e­fit the El­ton John AIDS Foun­da­tion.

Shara­pova lost her dou­bles match with Amer­i­can young­ster Tay­lor John­son when they faced Martina Navratilova and Liezel Hu­ber.

The 29-year-old in­di­cated had felt a hint of nerves along with her 16-year-old dou­bles part­ner John­son.

“It was a big oc­ca­sion for her (John­son) and also for me,” Shara­pova told ESPN.

“I haven’t been on a court for a while, for both of us, it was to have some fun and a bit of laughs,” she added.

Shara­pova later paired with US leg­end John McEn­roe in the evening’s fi­nal game against Navratilova and Andy Rod­dick.

Shara­pova had not played since test­ing pos­i­tive for mel­do­nium at the Aus­tralian Open in Jan­uary.

Her ini­tial 24-month ban was slashed to 15 months by the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport last Tues­day, a rul­ing which has di­vided opin­ion among her peers. – AFP

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