Maria Sharapova smiled and high-fived her way throughout a charity event in Las Vegas as she made her first return to the tennis court for the first time since her drugs ban.
The Russian admitted afterwards that it was “fun” to have some “laughs” at the World Team Tennis Smash Hits event last night.
In fact you might have almost forgotten for a brief moment that Sharapova is actually still serving her ban for testing positive for meldonium at the Australian Open in January such was the reaction to her appearance both on and off the court.
Sharapova last week earned a reduction in her drug ban that will allow her to return to tennis next April. Her initial 24-month ban has been cut to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last Tuesday.
While that decision has divided opinion among those in the game, there was plenty of smiles on court as Sharapova played in two doubles matches at Caesar’s Palace to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Sharapova, however, lost her doubles match with American youngster Taylor Johnson when they faced Martina Navratilova and Liezel Huber.
The 29-year-old did admit to nerves after linking up with 16-year-old Johnson.
“It was a big occasion for her (Johnson) and also for me,” Sharapova said.
“I haven’t been on a court for a while, for both of us, it was to have some fun and a bit of laughs,” she added.
Sharapova later partnered John McEnroe in the evening’s final game against Navratilova and Andy Roddick.