After a 15-month absence from the court, Maria Sharapova has sparked her revival with a first round win in the Italian Open over Christine McHale.
The five-time grand slam champion is currently ranked 211th in the world rankings but was given a wildcard to compete in Rome, earlier on Monday afternoon.
The 6-4 6-2 win has ensured the Russian will move back inside the top 200 and has earned her place in the Wimbledon qualifying round, to be held next month.
If the 30-year-old ace is to book her place in Wimbledon’s main draw, she will need to ensure a semi-final place in the current Italian Open.
Sharapova’s current form has been hitting both peaks and troughs lately since storming back on to the scene with a semi-final place in Stuttgart in April but falling to defeat in the second round in Madrid last week.
The next challenge facing Sharapova is a match up with Croatian 16th seed, Mirjana Lucic – Baroni, with world number one, Angelique Kerber, a potential third round opponent set to spoil the party.
The qualifying for Wimbledon is due to take place from 26 to 29 June at the Bank of England Sports Grounds in Roehampton. A sight to see for Sharapova if she fails to secure a semi-final slot in Rome this week.
The once ‘world number one’ was a dominant force in women’s tennis in 2008, however, a poor run of form in recent times and a drug-related suspension forced a slippery slope down the rankings for the Russian.
Is a revival on from the ‘Siberian siren’? Decisions will tell as she awaits a wildcard pick for the qualifying or main draw at the French Open, taking place 28 May.