Maria Sharapova missed her chance to qualify for the Wimbledon 2017 draw last month with a thigh injury. However, the Russian was back on the tennis courts in a California-based exhibition tournament recently. Following play on Monday night, Sharapova made some comments that suggest that she is getting back into the swing of things. Besides the thigh injury, she has also missed ample time on tour this year due to her lengthy suspension for a positive test for a banned substance stemming from early 2016.

“I felt really great; I had great energy,” Sharapova claimed on Monday. “I had great support from the team and the crowd.

It was a great night, a great ending as well” (qtd. by Steve Virgen at tennis.com).

Evert recently spoke about Sharapova

Besides the Exhibition Event, Sharapova's name has been in the news recently due to comments from Chris Evert. Evert claimed that she didn't think that Sharapova should be given a wild card to enter the 2017 US Open. Rather the Russian is seen as having to go through the qualifying draw. A lot of commentators and players feel that a player should not get a wild card into a tournament if they are suspended due to using banned substances. Eugenie Bouchard of Canada was one such player that spoke against Sharapova getting wild cards into events. The Canadian actually called for a lifetime ban against the Russian.

The exhibition event in California won't help her with qualifying for the US Open. Sharapova is currently ranked 173rd in the world and her recent results are not for ranking points. She does have a wild card for the upcoming 2017 Rogers Cup, an event that will be played in Toronto, Canada. She hasn't always attended the event in the past, but she did make the final in 2009 when she lost to Elena Dementieva.

If Sharapova can turn in a similar result this season then it will go a long way to ending the wild-card debate that has surrounded her name in recent months for events later this year.

Sharapova sees improvements

Sharapova also spoke to making some progress on Monday. “I played much better than I did a week ago,” Sharapova said.

“So that was an improvement. That’s one of the main reasons I wanted to come out here to play.”

The Rogers Cup, an event that switches each year between Montreal and Toronto, will start on August 5th. According to the players' list, Sharapova is the lowest-ranked player that has been awarded a spot in the main draw. However, that might change after the results from the qualifying tournament come in.

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