Maria Sharapova granted Birmingham wild card

Maria Sharapova will not request a wildcard for the main draw of Wimbledon and will instead begin her campaign at SW19 through qualifying.

Sharapova first burst onto the scene by winning Wimbledon as a 17-year-old in 2004.

The Russian returned to competitive action in April after serving a 15-month ban for failing a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open.

Maria Sharapova has agreed a two-year deal with the Lawn Tennis Association to play at Birmingham's Aegon Classic. Set to enter the top 200 on Monday, however, she is eligible to play in the qualifying event the week before in Roehampton, where she would need to survive three rounds just to take her place in round one at the All England Club. Sharapova's Wimbledon fate will be decided on June 20, when a committee meets to decide on wild cards for the main draw. "I am so grateful and excited to be playing at this event again!"

"This wasn't a decision we took lightly and we recognise not everyone will agree with it, however Maria has served her ban in full and is now back playing high-quality tennis".

That came hours after the French tennis authorities turned her down for Roland Garros, saying it would be wrong to hand a wild card to a player returning from a doping suspension.

Sharapova was refused automatic entry to the French Open on Tuesday, with her ranking still too low to qualify by right.

On Thursday, Sharapova was granted a wild card to play in the pre-Wimbledon tournament in Birmingham.

The five-time grand slam tournament victor will climb into the top 200 on Monday, high enough to earn a trip to London, albeit for a Wimbledon match programme that will begin earlier than usual.

Sharapova would have needed to reach the semi-finals in Rome to climb high enough to gain a spot in the main Wimbledon draw, but she withdrew during her second round match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni after injuring her left hamstring.

"All players receive ranking points and prize money and there is more money and ranking points on offer the more matches that they win", said Wimbledon's website. I read very carefully articles 100 and 101 of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which reduced the length of your ban.

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