The wild card berth was Maria Sharapova's for the main draw of the Australian Open, a Slam she's won over a decade ago. She was happy and said "..I was fortunate to get myself to be here and thankfully to Craig [Tiley] and the team allowing me to be part of this event."
She knows that any given day the round or tournament can go either way and she was there for the taking no matter the result. It took her opponent Donna Vekic only 45 minutes to come up with some sweeter goods to defeat the candy entrepreneur.
Naturally, she wasn't in the best of moods being bounced out in the first round of another tournament. Questions were asked about her retirement which ticked her off. "I don't know...It's tough for me to tell what's going to happen in 12 months' time," she snipped back at the media.
But Sharapova is creating the reputation of having her third straight loss at opening rounds of a major and unable to go the distance anymore at any tournament. Four years ago she was suspended from play for a positive drug test and her tennis world had came to a screeching halt.
Fifteen months later she dusted herself off and came back on tour depending on the good will of tournament directors to issue her wild cards. Most did, few didn't. She trudged on amiss scrutiny from players and some tennis communities but overall there was a great welcome for the iconic playing star.
Shoulder injuries and a few other ailments abound and now she's ranked No. 145. At the end of this Melbourne Slam she will be in the 300s. The Australian Open last year saw Sharapova through to the fourth round and last season she's barely went past the second of any tournament entered.
She's played an abbreviated tour schedule because of her pesty shoulder conditions and still has the passion to get out on court. Media personnel had asked if she is healthy enough to play a complete schedule this season, but giving a definite answer to their consistent questioning was mirky.
"I don't know...I don't have a crystal ball to tell you if I can or if I will, but I would love to..." she said honestly. The spirit for Maria Sharapova is willing but her physical health and stamina are truly compromised.
The aggressive opponents she must compete against arent indeed making things any easier to stay on tour. Chris Evert, a major title winner herself now ESPN Commentator says that "..When Maria retires I don't think there's gonna be any fanfares as far as she's concerned.
She will slip off into the night quietly." It must be an awkward and difficult position, but in time things should come together. The signal for whatever Maria Sharapova decides to do will be clear cut and to everyone very obvious.