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Summary

  1. Sharapova returns after 15-month doping ban
  2. The Russian has not played since 2016 Australian Open
  3. First round of event in Stuttgart
  4. Britain's Johanna Konta already through
  5. * denotes next to serve

Live Reporting

By Stephan Shemilt

All times stated are UK

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But that's us done for now. There's plenty of football for you this evening - follow the Premier League action here.

Bye for now.

So Sharapova announces her return with a pretty convincing victory. She plays Ekaterina Makarova in round two tomorrow.

Maria Sharapova, speaking on court: "It's the best feeling in the world, those first few seconds before you enter the arena. To know you were walking back out there was special. 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 for a little bit.

"I felt I had to grow as a person and I think I've done that.

"This is what I've done for so long. I'm a competitor, that's when I'm at my best."

Game, set and match Sharapova

Vinci 5-7 3-6 Sharapova

She's back.

Maria Sharapova announces her return with a straight-sets victory over Roberta Vinci. She rushes to the centre of the court, waving and blowing kisses to the crowd.

Cat, meet pigeons.

*Vinci 5-7 3-5 Sharapova

Three match points...

*Vinci 5-7 3-5 Sharapova

Sharapova feels it. Awesome forehand, then Vinci long. 0-30. Crowd clap with expectation.

*Vinci 5-7 3-5 Sharapova

Sharapova has nudged the ace count into double figures. After a rusty start, the serve looks well-oiled. Vinci, short of stature in purple at the far end, wipes her face with resignation. She must serve to stay in the match.

Vinci 5-7 3-4 Sharapova*

Sharapova has won this title three times and is now warming to the task of setting on course for a comeback fourth. The forehand remains mercurial, but once more the pressure in on Vinci. 30-30. Italian forehand out by the width of a matchstick. 40-40. Vinci ekes through, but her sand is fast running through the egg-timer.

*Vinci 5-7 2-4 Sharapova

Sharapova at the far end, peach and grey, trainers smattered with red dust. Points against serve are an endangered species here, only given away by a double fault. Hold to 15. Even the car in the corner knows which way this one is heading.

Vinci 5-7 2-3 Sharapova*

It's all gone a little flat, as if the decisive action of the match has already taken place. Even the crowd are subdued, temporarily awoken when Sharapova clobbers a backhand down the line. Still, it's Vinci's most comfortable hold for some time.

*Vinci 5-7 1-3 Sharapova

Sharapova is taking advantage of the indoor pace and the slippery surface to batter down two more aces. She's speeding towards the finish line and improving as she goes. Vinci needs a rabbit from the hat pretty soon.

Vinci 5-7 1-2 Sharapova*

For some reason, the experienced Vinci has not learned that allowing Sharapova to free her arms is as sensible as tickling a crocodile. Despite that, she muddles through to win her first game six, putting away a volley befitting the former doubles world number one. Clinging on.   

*Vinci 5-7 0-2 Sharapova

At long last, Sharapova consolidates that break. Vinci had three break-back points but squandered them all. The journey back gets longer...

Vinci 5-7 0-1 Sharapova*

This is scrappy, ugly. A Sharapova backhand into the net. Another break point, only for the Russian to boom down a saving ace. This game is ageing us all.

Vinci 5-7 0-1 Sharapova*

The Sharapova serve has gone missing, presumably wandering around the beer tents of Stuttgart. Luckily for her, Vinci isn't taking advantage. Deuce. At least four in this game so far...

Vinci 5-7 0-1 Sharapova*

Now then. Geometry-defying return from Vinci. Break-back point...

Vinci 5-7 0-1 Sharapova*

The applause has died down. That might not be because the crowd are against Sharapova, but because they know she is cutting the amount of tennis they are going to see. The serve bombs down, mixed with enough errors to keep a scampering Vinci in ti. 40-40...

Sharapova breaks

Vinci 5-7 0-1 Sharapova*

There is a sense of inevitability about this one. Sharapova has won four games in a row and is pulling away.

*Vinci 5-7 0-0 Sharapova

Saved, but giving feeding the Russian forehand again. Has Vinci not been watching the first set. No width. Bowl at the stumps. Another chance for the five-time Slam winner...

*Vinci 5-7 0-0 Sharapova

When Sharapova has the ball in her wheel house, she unleashes some crackerjack forehands. Vinci is really feeling the heat on the red dirt. Break point...

*Vinci 5-7 0-0 Sharapova

The world number 36 gets the second set under way. I just wonder if Sharapova might find another gear here.

Game and first set Sharapova

Vinci 5-7 Sharapova

This time! It's taken nearly an hour, but Maria Sharapova has won her first set of tennis since last January. Roberta Vinci clung on, but was eventually pushed past. Can the Italian find a response?

Vinci 5-6 Sharapova*

Hold your horses. A forehand long keeps Vinci in it. Sharapova's skins shines with sweat as a Vinci return is wild. Set point number two...

Vinci 5-6 Sharapova*

Russian jitters? Sharapova peers from under that grey visor but sees a serve fly past her with twice the velocity after Vinci decides to take the handbrake off.

The Sharapova ace count continues to grow, though. Six now. 

Set point... 

Sharapova breaks

Vinci 5-6 Sharapova*

Oh yes! Snap into a backhand return, tracking the line all the way and thudding into the back wall. A roar and a clench of the fist. Finally Vinci is swatted away. Sharapova will serve for the set. 

*Vinci 5-5 Sharapova

Are they just playing the same game on repeat? Once more Sharapova finds a way into the Vinci serve. 30-30 again. The Italian into the net. This time? 

*Vinci 5-5 Sharapova

The Sharapova movement is occasionally a little rusty - 15 months on the shelf will do that to you. When her long levers have time to stand and deliver the backhand, the line is found with laser-guided accuracy. The serve is getting mightier, too. Overtime needed.

Vinci 5-4 Sharapova*

The Italian clings on, keeping her nose in front with the sort of second serve a player of her size has no right to produce. You almost feel like Sharapova is destined to lose this set...

*Vinci 4-4 Sharapova

It's a mix of Vinci not going away and Sharapova not quite having that match-honed killer instinct. The odd Sharapova mistake, the occasional Vinci zinger, deuce after deuce...

*Vinci 4-4 Sharapova

That car at the back of the court is occasionally in danger from an errant tennis ball, subject to the sort of blow that used to get you in trouble with the neighbours. Vinci serve again under the pump, 30-30, then an errant backhand makes it 40-40. Would a sharper Sharapova take one of these chances?   

*Vinci 4-4 Sharapova

Has Sharapova been working on her serve over the past 15 months? She's winning more than 70% of points when she lands the first one. Hold to love - the first of the match. It's very easy for the former world number seven when she has the balls.

Vinci 4-3 Sharapova*

Well played, Roberta Vinci. Brave save with one that had more spin than a government advisor, then pressuring Sharapova into a couple of mistakes. Good contest, this.

*Vinci 3-3 Sharapova

There's a car in the back-right corner of the court, a red one that belongs to the sponsors. On a raised platform, it looks like it could drive off into the sky and through the roof of the arena at any moment. Vinci under pressure again, Sharapova gobbling up any sort of room to hit. Break point...

*Vinci 3-3 Sharapova

The Sharapova serve certainly looks the more bankable at the moment. More spice, extra bite, harder to return from whence it came. The bounce of the ball is deliberate, the toss elegant, the delivery mighty. Vinci, much shorter than her opponent, is something of a punchbag in this game.

Vinci 3-2 Sharapova*

I'm starting to fear for the Vinci serve. Sharapova is getting a decent look at it, swinging for the fences, but the radar is still not quite right. The Italian scrapes through this one, but the warning signs are there. She has, however, taken three games in a set off Sharapova for the first time.

*Vinci 2-2 Sharapova

It's almost as if the crowd aren't quite sure who to get behind. If anything, there's no strong applause for either please. Reverential rather than raucous. Vince is pressured at 30-30, Sharapova keeping the heat on with a formidable forehand to take us to 40-40...

Your comebacks

Text 81111

After spending 2 years retired from all sports due to losing a kidney whilst playing in goal at hockey, I returned for a cricket match in memory of one of the members who had died. I bowled 1 over and got a triple wicket maiden. I got my jumper went back to fine leg out of the way, and haven't played anything since!

Conrad Edkins, Halifax.

*Vinci 2-2 Sharapova

Sharapova is sporting a peachy coloured top that almost merges with the dusky red of the clay. She is also wearing a visor indoors. You have to be cool, successful or oblivious to pull off indoor headwear. This is more like a move into the stride, a hold to 15 featuring some bullet backhands.

Your comebacks

Text 81111

Hadn't played PlayStation in a long while, younger brothers friends came over for a FIFA tournament, asked if I'd like to join in. Lost the first group game but then went on to win the whole thing without conceding a goal after that.

Declan Grant, Kingswood

Sharapova breaks

Vinci 2-1 Sharapova*

This a harsh lesson for the Italian, like a fast bowler learning not to bowl wide to Brian Lara. Don't give Sharapova the space to free her arms. The back hand is in good order and the forehand will do damage if it lands in the right place. Sharapova wins her first game in a year and three months.