Maria Sharapova has outlined her comeback plans as she looks to hit the ground running when her shortened doping ban expires in April.
The former world number one had her suspension for the use of banned substance meldonium reduced by the Court of Arbitration for sport last week, having tested positive at the Australian Open in January.
Sharapova will be eligible to return to the WTA Tour in Rabat or Prague in the first week of May, but says she will compete in exhibitions to build match fitness.
“I will look to play maybe a couple of exhibition events leading up to my first tournament in April,” she said.
“I don’t know what those will be but I think that’s one of the things that will be really important because, with matchplay, you can never really replicate it. You can practice as much as you want but there’s nothing really like it.
“I won’t be playing too many but I think a few next year will really help me.”
Sharapova was speaking after making her on-court return in a team exhibition hosted by Elton John and Billie Jean King in Las Vegas.
“It’s very special to be back on the court,” she added. “It’s been about seven months since I’ve played in front of spectators and played in a stadium environment.”