STANFORD, CA, USA - After coming out of her 15-month suspension to play three events in the clay court season, she sustained a thigh injury in Rome and was forced to miss the grass court season.
But Maria Sharapova is fit again and will reboot her comeback to the tour at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, which kicks off on the campus of Stanford University on Monday.
This week Sharapova penned a piece in The Players’ Tribune expressing her excitement to return.
“I’m getting ready for the North American hardcourt season now, one of my favorites,” she wrote. “I’ll play Stanford, then Toronto - and I’m going to give it everything I have. And then I guess we’ll see what happens to my summer from there. I’m sure I’ll win some, and I’ll lose some. I’m sure my dozens of critics will show up, and so will my thousands of fans. But ultimately, who knows?
“When it comes to tennis, good or bad - there’s really only one thing I know for certain.
“I’ve missed it.”
Given she’d missed 15 months of action, Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion and former No.1, was impressive in her first few tournaments back - the best result came in her first tournament back, reaching the semifinals of Stuttgart before falling to Kristina Mladenovic in three tough sets.
But playing Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in a second round match in Rome, and up a break at 2-1 in the third set too, Sharapova was forced to retire with a thigh injury, temporarily halting her comeback:
But with a clean bill of health she’ll return to the Taube Family Tennis Stadium more motivated than ever this week, and seeking her first Bank of the West Classic title - her best career result at the Premier-level event was reaching the final in 2010, falling to fellow former No.1 Victoria Azarenka.
Sharapova, a wildcard into the draw this year, will open her campaign against American Jennifer Brady - who reached the fourth round of the Australian Open this year - with a potential second round match against No.7 seed Lesia Tsurenko and potential quarterfinal against No.3 seed Madison Keys.
For Sharapova’s own thoughts on her comeback, read her piece from The Players’ Tribune here.
And check out highlights from one of Sharapova’s most impressive career wins at the Bank of the West Classic, a grueling three set victory against Agnieszka Radwanska in the 2010 semifinals.