It was at the 2016 Australian Open when she was tested positive for the banned heart medication Meldonium after losing to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. Although her suspension ended in April, physical ailments have plagued her comeback all summer. She couldn’t play the qualifying tournament at Wimbledon because of a left thigh injury, pulled out of both Toronto and Cincinnati tournaments due to a left forearm tweak. The U.S. Tennis Association, as a courtesy to a former champion, gave her a wild card entry into the Grand slam and she played her first match back like she never ever left.
She was slated to play current world No. 2 Simona Halep of Romania against whom she has a head to head record of 6-0. This match showed why that record is so one sided. Maria’s serve was precise, she was hitting each angle perfectly and she easily covered more ground than her opponent. But Halep was not going to let this match go so easy since the stakes were even higher for her. She was one of seven women who was vying for the coveted world No.1 position. She fought with vigour but eventually surrendered the match 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to Sharapova in what was a thrilling match.
At the end of the match Sharapova was quoted saying, “Despite not playing a lot of matches coming into this, it almost seemed like I had no right to win this match today. And I somehow did. I think that is what I’m most proud of. I felt like my team and I have been through a lot. Since I’ve come back, I feel like I’m on a team. You know, I’m not just winning for myself, but I’m winning for everyone that has stood behind me. That is a very special feeling to have.”