Sharapova digs deep to win on French Open return

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.

Maria Sharapova returns to Netherland's Richel Hogenkamp during their women's singles first round match.   -  AFP

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.

The Russian was controversially not given a wildcard by organisers for the tournament last year, which took place shortly after her return from a doping suspension.

Sharapova, the 28th seed, will face Croatia's Donna Vekic in the second round.

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.

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 number 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 the former world number one dug deep and reeled off six straight games to edge into round two.