Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Sharapova gets wildcard for Birmingham classic

Her ranking is not yet good enough to reach the main draw of Wimbledon so she will need to go through the qualifying rounds which take place the week after the Birmingham event.

After serving a 15-month suspension for using the banned substance meldonium, the former Wimbledon victor is ranked 211th in the world and does not have enough points to make the tournament's main draw.

"We have received a two-year commitment from one of the most famous athletes in the world, Maria Sharapova, to play the Aegon Classic", LTA Chief Executive Michael Downey said.

Sharapova will, however, attend the Aegon Classic in Birmingham two weeks prior to Wimbledon and a week before qualifying, after being granted a place at the event. Former world number one Maria Sharapova has been handed a wildcard to the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Birmingham in June, Britain's Lawn Tennis Association said today. The Edgbaston Priory Club is a venue at which she has previously performed well, winning the event in 2004 - before going on to become Wimbledon champion at...

This decision comes just two days after the Russian was denied a wildcard entry to the French Open because of her recent doping ban.

Sharapova's attempts to secure a wildcard for this month's French Open were rejected by the French Tennis Federation this week.

The Russian has accepted wild cards to enter all three of her tournaments since her return, attracting criticism from many players.

'There can be a wildcard for the return of injuries - there cannot be a wildcard for the return from doping, ' FFT chief Bernard Giudicelli Ferrandini said. Wimbledon donates a large share of its profits to the LTA but the grand slam oversees its own tournament independently of the governing body.

Sharapova has already gained direct entry into Wimbledon qualifying at the end of June. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reduced the sanction to 15 months, saying she was not an "intentional doper".

Earlier in the week, Sharapova withdrew from the second-round match of the Italian Open during the game against Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

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