Maria Sharapova insists she has no regrets after returning to action at Melbourne Park for the first time since serving a 15-month doping ban.

The 30-year-old Russian former world women's tennis No1 raised her arms in triumph and accepted the plaudits of the big crowd at Margaret Court Arena after ousting Germany's Tatjana Maria 6-1 6-4 in the opening round of the Australian Open yesterday.

"I get shivers," said Sharapova. "It means a lot to me. I cherish these moments."

Sharapova was suspended after returning a positive test for Meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open in Melbourne.


She returned to the tour midway through 2017 and entered the first grand slam tournament of the year unseeded and with a world ranking of 48.

"I made a choice by coming back and by playing again," she said.

"With that choice I know that I face difficulties and challenges on the court and that I start from no ranking and that I might start on some outside courts. I understand that and that's part of the process and I'm here to work through that.

"I learned what it feels like to be on the ground and seeing life from the ground, and I'm not shy, I'm not shying away from any part of that."

Tournament organisers and the Seven Network were both widely criticised after featuring the Russian at the official tournament draw last week, while making no mention of her doping infraction.

Sharapova batted away questions as to whether it was appropriate she attend.

"I was invited to be part of the draw by ... the tournament organisation, and I kindly accepted."

Pushed further on the criticism levelled at her and the organisers she said: "I don't have anything to say to that."

Sharapova - whose five major crowns include the 2008 Australian title - has spent the past week in Melbourne adjusting to the conditions.

"I feel like I have got a lot of things out of the way physically and emotionally and mentally last year," she said.

"There were a lot of firsts again for me - playing the first tournament, first grand slam, and just different feelings and what it would be routinely. But it felt pretty routine today and I'm just really happy to be back."

Earlier, Angelique Kerber threatened to seize favouritism for the tournament after storming to her 10th straight victory of the summer.

The 2016 champion and former world No1 maintained her unbeaten start to the year with a merciless 6-0 6-4 first-round win over German compatriot Anna-Lena Friedsam.

Undefeated at the Hopman Cup in Perth and triumphant at last week's Sydney International, Kerber has buried the demons of a horror 2017 season in emphatic fashion. "I say goodbye already [to 2017], so I'm not looking back," she said.

Other big-name winners early on day two included Czech sixth seed Karolina Pliskova, a 6-3 6-4 victory over Paraguayan Veronica Cepede Royg, and British ninth seed Johanna Konta, who crushed American Madison Brengle 6-3 6-1.

On the men's side, six-time champion Novak Djokovic has advanced to the second round for the 12th consecutive year, beating American Donald Young 6-1 6-2 6-4.

The 14th-seeded Djokovic was playing his first official tournament match since a six-month layoff after a right elbow injury kept him off the circuit since Wimbledon, where he lost in the quarter-finals. He was not affected by the elbow.