Sport

Maria Sharapova receives Aegon Classic wildcard

Maria Sharapova receives Aegon Classic wildcard

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

The LTA's call to grant the world No 211 a free pass for the Aegon Classic, which runs from 19-25 June, is likely to draw criticism from those that believe players suspended for doping should not be given special privileges.

She was initially banned for two years for using meldonium, with the penalty later reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which ruled she was not an intentional doper.

The former world number one was refused automatic entry to the French Open earlier this week, while her Wimbledon fate has left many divided.

The Russian was excluded from Roland Garros by the French Tennis Federation (FFT) after failing to make the cut for qualifiers following her return from a 15-month doping ban.

However, following a first round win over Christina McHale of the United States at the Rome Masters on Monday (May 15), Sharapova is guaranteed entry to the Wimbledon Championships qualifying rounds.

Maria Sharapova was granted a wild card to play in the pre-Wimbledon tournament in Birmingham on Thursday.

"I have some great memories of playing there over the years, including winning the title on two previous occasions", the 30-year-old said. She is now ranked outside the top 200 in the world.

Sharapova has accumulated enough points already to enter Wimbledon qualifying but an All England Club sub-committee will meet on June 20 to decide which players will be fast-tracked into the first round proper.

In return, Sharapova has also agreed to commit to the 2018 tournament as well.

"I am looking forward to seeing all the recent improvements the tournament has made to establish itself as one the best grass court events in the world".

In response to the French Open's controversial decision, Sharapova wrote on her official Twitter page on Wednesday: "If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, everyday".


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