Sharapova battles into second round at Stanford
Los Angeles, US - Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova made a battling return to US hardcourts on Monday with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 victory over American Jennifer Brady in Stanford, California.
"I feel like I just want to hug everyone and say thank you," Sharapova told fans in a postmatch 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 former world No 1 from Russia hadn't played in the US since March of 2015, before serving a 15-month doping suspension for the use of meldonium.
She returned to competition in April, but her comeback has been disrupted by a hip injury that forced her to withdraw from Wimbledon qualifying.
Sharapova, whose ranking has fallen to 171 in the world, received a wild card into the premier level tournament in Stanford, where she was tested Monday by the 80th-ranked Brady.
Sharapova, who has also accepted a wildcard into the WTA tournament in Cincinnati - another key warm-up for the US Open - booked a second-round meeting with seventh-seeded Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko, a 6-3, 6-3 winner over Spain's Lara Arruabarrena.
Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, who stunned Venus Williams in the final at the All England Club, is the top seed. She will open with a secondround match against American Kayla Day, who defeated Japan's Misaki Doi 6-4, 6-2 on Monday.
Maria Sharapova in action in Stanford, US, on Monday