Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Sport | By Noel Norman

Maria Sharapova will not request Wimbledon wildcard


Maria Sharapova has accepted a wildcard to play at the Aegon Classic Birmingham 2017 and agreed to play at the event for the next two years amid heated debate as to whether she should be granted entrance to the main draw at Wimbledon.

The Russian, who returned last month from a 15-month doping ban, had her request for a French Open wild card rejected by Roland Garros officials earlier this week.

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova announced on Friday her decision of taking part in the qualifying series of the Wimbledon tournament instead of waiting for a wildcard.

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

Sharapova was initially banned for two years after testing positive for then newly-banned heart condition drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

Rather than face a similar fate at Wimbledon, Sharapova will now attempt to get through three rounds of qualifying to book a place in the 128-person main draw in July.

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Sharapova was controversially denied the chance to return to Grand Slam tennis at the upcoming French Open when the French Tennis Federation this week decided against offering her a wildcard either into the main draw or into qualifying. The five-time Grand Slam victor had plummeted to 211.

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

"I have already started getting treatment on the injury I sustained a few days ago in Rome, and will begin my preparation as soon I get better", the five-times grand slam champion said.

As revealed by The Times last week, the LTA have given Sharapova one of the four available wild cards after her ranking of No 258 on May 8 was too low to gain direct entry.

Maria Sharapova retired from her Italian Open match citing an apparent left thigh injury hours after learning she would not be granted a wild card into the French Open. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reduced the sanction to 15 months, saying she was not an "intentional doper".

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