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Maria Sharapova makes tennis comeback

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Maria Sharapova makes tennis comeback in $600 Swarovski-studded dress by former Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci

To fashion lovers, Maria Sharapova's comeback dress at the US Open was a work of athleisure art.

To tennis fans (or anyone who perspires while exercising), it was a distracting chafing hazard.

The five-time grand slam champion chose a little black tennis dress adorned with crystals and lace to return to the grand slam circuit, an arena she left after she tested positive to a banned substance, meldonium, following a loss to Serena Williams in the quarter-finals of the 2016 Australian Open.

It wasn't just any old tennis dress made from miscellaneous pieces of Lycra. As Sharapova stepped onto Arthur Ashe Stadium she mirrored Princess Diana circa 1994, when the royal wore a black Christina Stambolian "revenge dress" to upstage Charles and Camilla's affair.

Sharapova too upstaged her opponent, the second-seeded Simona Halep, in her first grand slam match in 19 months and won in a fashion that was as thrilling as her kit.

For her return to tennis, the star collaborated with fashion designer Riccardo Tisci and Nike, the sportswear brand which "suspended" her sponsorship contract last year after news broke of the positive drug test.

Her all black ensemble is a far cry from the preppy and crisp uniforms usually spotted on centre courts of other grand slams like Wimbledon. She chose black due to superstition as she won the 2006 US Open wearing a black dress.

"When I think of anywhere that I play, I want to bring a sense of elegance to the feeling that I have when I walk onto the court. That's what I felt with the 2006 dress, and what I really wanted to relive in this dress is the moment of elegance and thinking of Audrey Hepburn and her classic Givenchy dress," she told Vogue.

Coincidentally Tisci is the former Givenchy creative director and had previously worked with Nike for other projects.

The inclusion of "technical lace" and Swarovski-beading was Tisci's idea.

"I said it would be fantastic for crystal to be a part of the dress ... Crystals have never happened before on a tennis player," Tisci said.

Tennis, fashion and Sharapova fans can buy the exact dress only from Nike's New York store - for about $630.

Tisci also created a bomber jacket which is available for about $880.

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