Maria Sharapova to enter Wimbledon qualifying tournament

Sharapova granted Birmingham wildcard

Having elected not to request a wildcard for Wimbledon, Sharapova will have to progress through three qualifying rounds to play in SW19's main draw.

Maria Sharapova will play in the Wimbledon qualifying tournament.

Sharapova returned from her doping ban on April 26 but relied on wildcards to get into tournaments because her world ranking points expired while she was banned.

Maria Sharapova will compete in the main draw of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham next month after the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) confirmed today that they have handed the Russian a wild card.

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As the debate continues over whether certain tennis tour organisers have done the right thing by providing wild card entries to the "disgraced" Maria Sharapova, the Russian tennis star has given something back to her critics on Friday May 19.

'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.

While this ended her hopes of qualifying on merit for Wimbledon's main draw, a decision on whether she is granted a main draw spot will be taken on June 20, according to reports.

"However Maria has served her ban in full and is now back playing high quality tennis".

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Other players, including Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber, have been outspoken about Sharapova receiving free passes into events.

Maria Sharapova was granted a wild card to play in the pre-Wimbledon tournament in Birmingham on Thursday. "I am so grateful and excited to be playing this event again!" read a statement on her official website. 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 the title in Birmingham in 2004 and 2005. However, the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled on October 4, 2016 to cut her suspension term from 24 to 15 months. A medical expert called upon by Sharapova to give evidence said the prescription had been justified "both as a cardio-protective agent and as a preventative agent for diabetes".

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