Tennis superstar Maria Sharapova returned to action after a seven month injury layoff in a doubles match at Indian Wells in California.
The former world number one paired up with fellow Russian Elena Vesnina to test her shoulder ahead of a full comeback to the WTA Tour. They went down 6-1 4-6 10-7 loss to Ekaterina Makarova of Russia and Belarussian Tatiana Poutchek in the first round. The makeshift pair led 7-4 in the deciding breaker before sliding to defeat, but Sharapova was just relieved to be back on the court in a competitive match. “It’s really good to be back. It seems like forever ago I last played,” Sharapova told the official WTA Tour Web site www.sonyericssonwtatour.com. “There are so many things I’ve missed about playing – the preparation for the match, going on the court and playing.” Sharapova, who pulled out of the Bejing Olympics and U.S. Open last year before taking a prolonged break, gave no clue as to when she would be making a full-time comeback in singles. “I started training a couple of months ago. It has been difficult. Right now I’m still working up to being 100% again,” she said. The 24-year-old has been plagued by a troublesome shoulder for some while although it did not prevent her starting 2008 in a blaze of glory as she claimed the Australian Open title. But injury worries wrecked the rest of her season and she was unable to defend her title in Melbourne earlier this year. In her absence, and with the retirement of Justine Henin, the Williams sisters have taken a stranglehold on the grand slams with Venus winning Wimbledon and Serena taking the U.S. Open and Australian Open.