Maria Sharapova made a stylish return to the US Open when she walloped Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova 6-3, 6-0 to reach the second round on Tuesday.
Wearing a black outfit criss-crossed with silver strapping, which she described as being “inspired by the architecture of New York”, the Russian was in sparkling form under floodlights and gave Pironkova a dressing down in 73 minutes.
Sharapova, who is working her way back into top form after taking nine months out with a shoulder injury, won seven games in a row to book a second-round encounter with American wildcard Christina McHale.
A year after skipping the tournament to undergo rehabilitation on her injured shoulder in Arizona, Sharapova was delighted to be back on the stage where she lifted the famed silver cup in 2006.
“It’s amazing,” Sharapova, seeded 29th, told the crowd on Arthur Ashe Stadium. “Being out almost a whole year, it’s all worth it when you step on the court, you hear all the cheering and feel the atmosphere.
“You forget what you are doing it all for but when you feel this you remember.”
She was also happy to share the spotlight with another comeback artist, Belgian Kim Clijsters who took a two-year break to start a family.
Since both are former US Open champions and former world No.1s, Sharapova thought their return would add an intriguing twist to this year’s proceedings.
“Comebacks are great for the sport themselves,” the 22-year-old said.
“Both of us are kind of coming back from different stages in our life … and we’re both still very young.
“It creates excitement and buzz, considering that we’re contenders. We’ve won grand slams, we’re big competitors. We love the big stage.” – Reuters