The win over Roberta Vinci – 7-5, 6-3 – wasn’t the main talking point, it was all about the Russian’s first appearance in competitive action in 15 months, since her doping ban.
Struggling at first, the welcoming crowd, see Sharapova soon show signs of what has made her a grand slam champion as she shaked off rustiness to dominant points en route to her win.
Winning matches this week, is all important for Sharapova, who will see her world ranking go up inside 500, after coming out the tour, said “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time….I spent a long time without hitting any balls. I didn’t know when I would be back. I went to school for a little bit, I grew my business and had a normal life. I put the racquet away.”
With her comeback, has come important wildcards, not just to the this event, but big tournaments in Italy and Spain next month, which has seen players on tour comment that it should not be the done thing in professional sport. But Sharapova was keen to suggest that she is not the one asking for them.
“I’m being offered wildcards from the tournament directors and I’m accepting them to be able to compete in the draw. I’m coming with no ranking and I’m not getting a wildcard to receive a trophy or a golden platter. I have to get through the matches and I still have to win them and that’s my job,” she told BBC Sport.
By the middle of May she will find out whether the French Open organisers will offer her a wildcard for the tournament, a precedent, that Wimbledon and the US Open could offer her later in the season. The only way to get into qualifying at the French Open would be to make the final in Stuttgart.
Britain’s Jo Konta, fresh from her Fed Cup nightmare on-court in Romania, lost in the 2nd round in Stuttgart to Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 7-5.