Maria Sharapova split two sets in the Orange County Breakers 17-14 loss to the defending World TeamTennis champion San Diego Aviators Sunday at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad in the season opener for both teams.
Sharapova, who had five stints as the No. 1 player on the Women’s Tennis Association singles rankings, most recently in 2012, was playing for the first time since May 16, when a thigh injury forced her to retire from her second-round match in the Rome Open she was leading Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 4-6, 6- 3, 2-1.
Sharapova first played women’s doubles, teaming with Andreja Klepac for a 5-1 victory over Darija Jurak and Shelby Rogers that increased the Breakers lead to 10-2. Klepac and Ken Skupski defeated Jurak and Raven Klaasen, 5-1, in the opening set, mixed doubles.
The Aviators won each of the final three sets. Ryan Harrison and Klaasen defeated Teymuraz Gabashvili and Skupski, 5-1, in men’s doubles, cutting the deficit to 11-7. Rogers defeated Sharapova, 5-3. Harrison, the league’s 2016 male MVP, defeated Gabashvili, 5-0, the 2015 male MVP, in men’s singles.
Sharapova is set to play for the Breakers for a second and final time this season July 24 at Breakers Stadium at Palisades Tennis Club, also against the Aviators.
World TeamTennis matches consist of one set each of men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles, with the team winning the most games winning the match.
The Breakers will play their home opener Monday night against the Springfield Lasers.
Sharapova was suspended Jan. 26, 2016, by the International Tennis Federation for an anti-doping rule violation. She regained her eligibility to play on April 26.
Sharapova reached the semifinals of her first tournament following her suspension, the $719,000 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany, then lost in the second round of both her tournaments since then.