Maria Sharapova can finally remember what the sweet taste of victory is like.
Early Sunday morning, the 30-year-old tennis star defeated Aryna Sabalenka 7–5, 7–6 (8), to claim the Tianjin Open.
“It is a special title, a special victory,” Sharapova said after the match, via WTA Tennis. “It has been a couple of years since I have held the winner’s trophy. It is a great feeling, a team effort.
“When you start all the way from the beginning of the tournament, and it was so cold and not as many spectators, and then you end up playing the final in a full stadium with so much enthusiasm and energy and you are the one that wins the last point, just everything falls into place. You have to appreciate those moments, never take them for granted.”
Sharapova needed just over two hours to win the match.
— Tianjin Open (@TianjinOpen) October 15, 2017
Sharapova was quick to celebrate the win with the fans.
It marks Sharapova’s first tournament title since returning from a 15-month drug ban. It is her first WTA tour championship since the Italian Open in 2015.
Sharapova initially received a two-year ban for testing positive for the banned substance meldonium, but ultimately Sharapova’s ban was reduced by the International Tennis Federation.