Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Sharapova receives wild card entry into pre-Wimbledon event

Maria Sharapova has been granted a wild card to play in the pre-Wimbledon tournament in Birmingham, two days after she was rejected by the French Open because of her recent doping ban.

The five-time Grand Slam champion will join fellow top WTA Tour stars including Angelique Kerber, Johanna Konta, Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova in a heavily stacked field at the Edgbaston Priory Club, though attention will now swiftly turn towards her participation at Wimbledon.

Maria Sharapova made another pre-emptive strike on Friday when she announced that she would not be seeking a wildcard into Wimbledon's main draw.

British Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Michael Downey says Sharapova committed to the Aegon Classic for this year and next year in return for a wild card.

Sharapova tested positive for the controversial banned medication meldonium during January's Australian Open.

Also, there will be 12 further wildcards for the qualifying events which will be confirmed ahead of the tournament, with these likely to be offered to eligible British players.

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Now she is faced with having to play four consecutive weeks if she is to qualify and go deep into the main draw.

However, Sharapova has guaranteed a spot at Wimbledon qualifying event in July after winning her opening match at the on-going Rome Masters.

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.

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.

On Thursday, Sharapova was granted a wild card to play in the pre-Wimbledon tournament in Birmingham. She has, however, received an invitation to the traditional Wimbledon warmup tournament in Birmingham, England.

The 30-year-old, whose chances of climbing high enough up the Women's Tennis Association rankings to make the automatic Wimbledon draw were scotched when she pulled out of this week's Italian Open with injury, has chose to take matters into her own hands by attempting to win the Roehampton qualifying tournament. "I am so grateful and excited to be playing this event again!" read a statement on her official website.

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