World number two Maria Sharapova Sunday admitted to concerns about playing in the Pan Pacific Open in Japan after the March earthquake-tsunami sparked the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
But the popular Russian said that the presence of seven of the world's top 10 women's players in Tokyo should serve as "a big statement" of support for Japan in a time of crisis.
"There was definitely a lot of talk before the tournament, a lot of players having concerns whether it's safe to come here," Sharapova said.
"I know that a few actually didn't come here because they were a little bit scared."
Before the matches began Sunday, organisers and players held a short ceremony to mourn the devastation wrought by the 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami that left more than 20,000 dead or missing along Japan's northeastern Pacific coast.
The disasters triggered a series of meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power plant northeast of Tokyo.
World number one Caroline Wozniacki said she had been deeply moved at the Japanese people's stoicism.
"It's amazing to see how people are just staying strong and they are living... trying to get back to normal life, even though I know a lot of families have been affected," said the Dane.
"I really think that Japan and Japanese people have done a great job to come back."