Maria Sharapova returned with a controversially granted wild card to compete in Stuttgart and the Porsche Grand Prix — and she looked like she’s been using her time-off well. The 5-time Grand Slam champ dispatched Roberta Vinci 7-5, 6-3 with a keen service game and some blasted winners. Then she beat Ekaterina Makarova handily before losing to Kristina Mladenovic in the semifinal. People remember Sharapova’s first victim, Roberta Vinci, because she derailed Serena Williams bid for a calendar Grand Slam at the 2015 US Open. It was one of the largest upsets in sports.
But while Sharapova looks strong against the likes of Vinci and more, she will likely have the same problem returning to the top of her game as she had when she left: Serena Williams. For all of Sharapova’s greatness, she is a lifetime 19-2 against Williams, a fact that even a win over Williams-conqueror Vinci does little to assuage.