Sharapova returns to action in Cincinnati

After a long break, Maria Sharapova returns to the tennis court at this week's Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

The Russian superstar has been on hiatus since the semi-finals of Wimbledon, where she was trounced by the indomitable Serena Williams. 

"I always enjoy the little break we get after Wimbledon," the 28-year-old told 

"I think it's a nice time. I love summer. I've been training, but enjoying it a little bit with friends too. I like those weeks between the grass and the hard, and just kind of resettling and working on a few things, but also being able to take your mind off the grind of the schedule and the travelling we do on the tour.

"Unfortunately I needed a little bit more time because I hurt my leg in training. I had a few tough weeks and then a little bit of a setback, and it came right before I was supposed to fly, but I'm feeling better now. I'm still working through it a little bit, but I'm feeling better than I did just a week ago.

"My schedule's already quite short in terms of what I play, and that tournament was definitely one I wanted to be a part of, but sometimes you just have to readjust based on where you are."

The five-time grand slam winner is seeded second in Cincinnati and will face Vavara Lepchenko in the second round.

On the other end of the draw is Williams, who is the talk of the town as she prepares for the US Open and a rare calendar year Grand Slam. Sharapova was full of praise for the 21-time grand slam winner, who she has not defeated since 2004.

"Consistency is very underrated – in this sport it goes a long way – and to keep such a high level and bring it event after event, no matter what match you're playing, it's an incredible power to do that," added the world number two.

"We speak about the physicality she has on court and her presence, but as an athlete, and just as a normal human being, you have days where you're just off and things are not working. The fact that she brings it her whole career, and that she's at this point, is just incredible."