Heather Watson made a first-round exit at the BNP Paribas Open after going down 6-4 6-2 to Victoria Azarenka.
The Belarusian former world number one, playing her first WTA Tour match in eight months because she will not leave California due to an ongoing custody battle over her son, broke five times to Watson’s two to book a second-round meeting with US Open champion Sloane Stephens.
The match was Azarenka’s first since Wimbledon last year, with the custody battle seeing her pull out of both the US and Australian Opens.
Azarenka started as if she had never been away, racing into a 5-1 lead before the Briton cancelled out her opponent’s two breaks to get the match back on serve at 5-4.
The Belarusian broke straight back though to take the set.
She broke for a 2-0 lead at the start of the second and saved seven break points at 4-2 up on her way to closing out the match.
Azarenka, speaking courtside in quotes broadcast on BT Sport, said: “It truly means the world to me to be here, to play and to enjoy myself.
“Walking out on court I felt so much love and I almost had tears in my eyes. It’s such an amazing feeling to be back playing and having fun – I forgot what it’s like playing in different emotions.
“It was definitely tough, especially when you have been out of the game for a while. There were some moments that I lost my concentration from not playing so long, but it’s a pretty good start. I had my heart out playing here and that’s the most important (thing).”