Brisbane: Maria Sharapova beat 74th-ranked Caroline Garcia of France 6-3, 6-0 in the first-round match in the season-opening Brisbane International, on Monday.
The four-time Grand Slam winner played only one match following an early exit at Wimbledon last season due to a right shoulder injury.
“It’s been four months... (so) it was a big step for me. It was a big step to come and a big step to play out there tonight,” Sharapova said, adding that she was pain-free and feeling good. “These matches are what I came here for. No matter the opponent or the situation, you know, they’re really priceless for me at this point, and extremely important.
She will next play 17-year-old Australian qualifier Ashleigh Barty.
Fourth-seeded Jelena Jankovic, who beat 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 7-6 (6), No. 5 Angelique Kerber, No. 8 Carla Suarez and No. 9 Dominika Cibulkova have also advanced to the second round.