Maria Sharapova showed no signs of injury during her opening match at the Australian Open on Monday. The No. 5 seed beat Japan’s Nao Hibino in an impressive showing, taking the match in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3.
Sharapova looked the part in her NikeCourt Maria Premier tennis dress and Nike Zoom Vapor sneakers. The Russian tennis star has been with brand for more than 10 years, and in 2010, she extended the contract for eight years for a whopping $70 million — making her the highest-paid female athlete.
At age 17, Sharapova beat defending champion Serena Williams to win her first Grand Slam singles title. Since then, Sharapova has continually lost to Williams — 17 consecutive times. While Williams seems to have the on-court advantage, Sharapova has the edge in endorsements.
Sharapova’s injury-prone career has taken her out of the No. 1 seed and limited her Grand Slam wins. She lost to Williams in the semifinals at Wimbledon last summer, and she didn’t participate in any tournament until The Wuhan Open at the end of September. She then pulled out of Brisbane International this month due to a forearm injury — leaving her health suspect.
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With a strong opening win for her first tournament of the season, all eyes are on Sharapova as she faces Aliaksandra Sasnovich next and during the potential matchup against Williams in the quarterfinals if both advance.