Maria Sharapova: 'Fun and laughs' as tennis star returns to the court

    Story highlights

    • Russian star features in charity event
    • Plays alongside McEnroe, Navratilova and Roddick
    • Returns to tennis tour from drugs ban in April

    (CNN)There were smiles and laughs as Maria Sharapova played her first game of tennis since testing positive for melodonium at the Australian Open in January.

    A week after gaining a reduction to her doping ban -- which will allow Sharapova to resume her career in April 2017-- the 29-year-old played in a charity tournament.
      She featured in two doubles matches at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, a World Team Tennis Smash Hits charity event supporting the Elton John AIDS Foundation hosted by the pop star and tennis legend Billie Jean King.
      The fundraiser featured some of the biggest names in the game's history.
      Sharapova, who had her original 24-month ban for testing positive to meldonium cut to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration of Sport, paired up with 16-year-old Taylor Johnson against Martina Navratilova and five-time grand slam doubles champion Liezel Huber.
      In the final game of the day, Sharapova partnered John McEnroe against Navratilova and Andy Roddick in an all star clash of former world No. 1 players.
      On playing with US youngster Johnson, the Russian star acknowledged the importance of the match, despite it being a fundraising event.
      "It was a big occasion for her and also for me," she told ESPN. "I haven't been on court for a while; for both of us, it was to have some fun and a bit of laughs."
      Sharapova also got involved in the charity auction that took place after the matches, outbidding the rest of the room to purchase a Hamilton package (the Broadway musical) for a generous sum of $18,000.