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Monday, March 9, 2009
Sharapova to play Indian Wells doubles

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Maria Sharapova is returning to the WTA Tour this week, ending her injury absence of more than seven months by playing doubles at an event in Indian Wells, Calif.

Sharapova, who missed the last two Grand Slam tournaments with a right shoulder injury, will compete in doubles for the first time in nearly four years, teaming with Elena Vesnina.

What the three-time major champion isn't yet ready to do is play singles, according to her Web site.

"I am excited to be playing competitive tennis again," Sharapova said in a posting on her site. "The healing process takes time, and requires things to move more slowly than I would like, but I am taking things one step at a time."

Sharapova has not played competitively since pulling out of a tournament in Montreal in late July after winning a nearly three-hour match in which she double-faulted 17 times. The right-hander was examined by a trainer midway through the three-set victory, and she withdrew from the tournament before her next match.

Medical tests later found a torn rotator cuff tendon in the Russian's shoulder.

In addition to missing last year's U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open, Sharapova also pulled out of an indoor event in Paris and a hard-court tournament in Dubai last month.

The joint ATP-WTA tournament in Indian Wells begins Wednesday.