Shazza was at times brilliant and always compelling in her first Slam match since she failed a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open
MARIA SHARAPOVA returned to the Grand Slam stage in style with a gutsy victory in a New York classic against Simona Halep.
Sharapova was at times brilliant and always compelling as she made her first Major appearance since she failed a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open.
Tennis’s glamour puss returned to the big stage in style
The ice queen of tennis wore a strange sparkly outfit that looked like bad lingerie but otherwise the popcorn clash of the first round of the US Open lived up to its star billing.
An emotional Sharapova, whose 6-4 4-6 6-3 victory made it seven wins and no losses against world No 2 Halep, said: “Everything you go through is so worth it for this moment.
“You sometimes wonder why you put in the work and this is exactly why.
“It’s primetime, baby. These are the opportunities you play for. I embrace every moment of it. I love it.
“I can’t wait for moments like that.
“Behind all these crystals and little back dresses this girl has a lot of grit and she isn’t going anywhere.”
ROCKY ROAD BACK
Banned drug cheat Maria Sharapova looks ready for tennis return as she shows off her beach body in Hawaii
Xisca Perello was at Wimbledon to support boyfriend Rafael Nadal, but who is the Spanish beauty?
Tennis star Eugenie Bouchard stuns on the beach in tiny bikini as shes shows off peachy rear while on Spanish summer break
Game, set and love match
Who has Grigor Dimitrov dated? Here’s the definitive girlfriend list including Nicole Scherzinger
Love on Venus
Who is Venus Williams dating and how many children does Wimbledon six-time champ have?
Ban almost Ova
Maria Sharapova ‘had to Google banned drug’ despite taking it since 2006 – as tennis star says she had ‘great dating life’ during time out
Sharapova escaped any booing from the crowd for her anti-doping violation and the way she handled the fallout, but the welcome for Halep was noticeably warmer.
There is no love lost between the two women after Halep’s criticism earlier in the year of the decision to give the Russian wildcards into big events after her comeback.
And what developed on the first evening of the event was a match worthy of being its climax.
Both players went for their shots from the start and although Sharapova was also making plenty of errors, when she found her flow the winners went flying off her racket.
Halep was typically dogged, chasing down every ball in the hope of provoking a mistake.
A long, tense opening set deserved to be settled by a tiebreak.
But after Halep ended a run of four breaks of serve by holding for 4-4, Sharapova stepped it up a gear again and a double fault gave her a set point which she took with yet another crunching winner.
The second set seemed likely to be less competitive when Sharapova went a break ahead and seemed to be moving towards victory.
But again Halep fought back and then took the Russian’s serve to set up a chance to serve for the set, which she took but only after saving a host of break back points.
The weakness of the Romanian’s second serve continued to be crucial as Sharapova beat seven bells out of each ball that sat up and begged to be hit.
She moved a break ahead in the decider at the first opportunity and kept it that way despite Halep’s best efforts.
In a titanic final game, Sharapova came up with some extraordinary shots to complete her extraordinary return to the big time.
Chelsea sign Kylian Hazard from Hungarian side Ujpest as Eden’s brother joins development squad
SEE YOU NEXT YEAR
Conor McGregor unlikely to return to the UFC this year after fighter given a two-month medical ban
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger makes fresh attempt to snap-up PSG star Julian Draxler after Neymar signing
GUNNERS GET AGGY WITH CITY
Arsenal ‘want Sergio Aguero’ as part of deal taking Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City
Cott to be you
Arsenal handed major boost in their Virgil van Dijk chase with Southampton wanting Theo Walcott in return
Arsene Wenger’s dodgy eyesight was the biggest joke in football… now it’s the Arsenal boss himself
Arsenal stars ‘complain training is always same while Arsene Wenger stays silent in dressing room’
Runs in the family
Patrick Kluivert’s nine-year-old son Shane signs for his dad’s former club Barcelona
Paulie Malignaggi says battered Conor McGregor wanted ref to save him and stop fight
Shoot to Kyl
Kylian Mbappe ‘passes medical ahead of PSG switch with Monaco star set to be handed No7 shirt’
Man City offer Raheem Sterling plus cash for Alexis Sanchez as ace asks to quit Chile camp for 24 hours to take care of ‘other commitments’