Sharapova gets wildcard for Wimbledon warm-up

Sharapova granted Birmingham wildcard
Sharapova wildcard a controversial choice - LTA chief

20 May, 2017

The Russian star, who has only recently returned following a 15-month drug ban, has been given a wildcard for the event in the West Midlands next month after tumbling down the world rankings.

"A few months ago, I received a wild card offer from Birmingham, one of my most memorable tournaments as a young player".

That prompted speculation that Sharapova may be handed a wildcard into the year's third major, but she revealed on her website that she will be entering the qualification tournament instead. She would have been amongst the contenders to get the wildcard from Wimbledon's wildcard committee which will meet on June 20.

Organisers of the event at Roland Garros confirmed that her doping suspension counted against her as he requested a wildcard entry to the tournament she has won on two occasions.

All England Club chairman Philip Brook said on May 3: "We will wait and see whether Maria applies for a wild card and, if so, we will consider the case alongside everyone else's".

The French Tennis Federation this week decided against offering her a wild card either to the main draw or to qualifying.

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"This wasn't a decision we took lightly and not everyone will agree with it", said Lawn Tennis Association chief Michael Downey.

Her ranking, at No. 211 before she went two rounds at the Italian Open this week, was not good enough to make the French Open qualifying draw but good enough for Wimbledon qualifying. 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 won Wimbledon in 2004.

Sharapova could have secured a place in the Wimbledon main draw by right had she reached the semi-finals at the Italian Open in Rome, but she withdrew injured during a second round match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash said this week that he fully supported the FFT's decision to refuse her a wild card, adding that he hoped Wimbledon would follow suit.

Her ban was later reduced to 15-months following a successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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