After a 15-month doping ban, tennis star and former world number one, Maria Sharapova, returned to action on Wednesday with a win against Roberta Vinci in the first round of the Stuttgart Open.
The Russian, who was suspended in March 2016 after testing positive for meldonium, beat the Italian 7-5 6-3 to progress to face Ekaterina Makarova.
Sharapova, who hit 11 aces and 39 winners, said: “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.
“It’s the best feeling in the world, those first few seconds before you enter the arena. To know you were walking back out there was special.
“I spent a long time without hitting any balls. I didn’t know when I would be back. I went to school for a little bit, I grew my business and had a normal life. I put the racquet away for a little bit.
“I felt I had to grow as a person and I think I’ve done that. But this is what I’ve done for so long. I’m a competitor – that’s when I’m at my best.”
Her participation in the competition having been questioned by fellow tennis players, the former world number one will find out on 16 May if she has been given a wildcard for the French Open, which starts on 28 May.
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