NEW YORK: When Maria Sharapova’s first Grand Slam match after a 15-month doping suspension ended with a victory at the U.S. Open, she dropped to her knees and covered her face, tears welling in her eyes.
This was merely a win to get to the second round, yes, but it also clearly meant so much more to Sharapova. It meant she was back.
Displaying as much emotion on court as she ever did after one of her five major championships, Sharapova recovered after faltering midway through the match and emerged to beat No. 2-seeded Simona Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 at the U.S. Open over more than 2½ hours Monday night.
“Behind all these Swarovski crystals and little black dresses,” Sharapova told the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd, “this girl has a lot of grit, and she’s not going anywhere.”
So much about Sharapova was the same as it ever was: the shot-punctuating shrieks, the aggressive baseline style, the terrific returning, the sometimes-shaky serving.