PARIS (AFP, REUTERS) - Two-time champion Maria Sharapova survived a serious scare to claim a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Dutch qualifier Richel Hogenkamp in her first French Open match since 2015 on Tuesday (May 29).
The Russian was controversially not given a wild card by organisers for the tournament last year, which took place shortly after her return from a doping suspension.
Sharapova, the 28th seed, will next face Croatia's Donna Vekic.
The former world No. 1 ended up spending more time than she would have wanted on court Suzanne Lenglen in defeating the Dutch qualifier but the only thing that mattered was that she was into round two.
The five-time Grand Slam winner is only seeded at Roland Garros courtesy of a semi-final run in Rome earlier this month which dragged her back into the top 30 for the first time since her ban.
After being given a warm welcome by the Roland Garros crowd when she arrived on court, the Russian raced to a 3-0 lead in the opening set.
The 31-year-old took just 24 minutes to win the first set of a match which was delayed from Monday due to thunderstorms, but threw away a 3-1 lead in the second as world No. 133 Hogenkamp forced a decider.
Sharapova was staring down the barrel of falling at first hurdle in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since the 2010 Australian Open when trailing 3-0 in the third, but she dug deep and reeled off six straight games to edge into round two.
I really dug deep but sometimes you need to go through these types of matches where things don't go the way you want," Sharapova said courtside.
"Happy the way I came back in the third set.
"I'm so fortunate to be back in this position, I formed so many great memories here."