Maria Sharapova ends Wimbledon wildcard speculation by entering Roehampton qualifying tournament

Posted May 20, 2017

Maria Sharapova will not request a wildcard for the main draw of Wimbledon and will instead begin her campaign at SW19 through qualifying.

The five-time Grand Slam champion will participate in the event for the first time in seven years, committing to play in this year's tournament as well as in 2018.

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has been banned for two years after failing a drug test, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced on June 8, 2016.

"A few months ago, I received a wild card offer from Birmingham", said Sharapova on her website, "[which was] one of my most memorable tournaments as a young player.

Maria Sharapova has been granted a wildcard for next month's WTA grasscourt event in Birmingham, a key Wimbledon warm-up, organisers said Thursday.

Sharapova was denied a wild card for the French Open this week, in a move which was questioned by WTA chief Steve Simon who said: "I don't agree with the basis for the decision put forward by the FFT".

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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.

Earlier this week, the former top-ranked Russian had her request for a French Open wild card rejected by Roland Garros officials.

The five-time grand slam tournament victor will climb into the top 200 on Monday, high enough to earn a trip to London, albeit for a Wimbledon match programme that will begin earlier than usual. I am so grateful and excited to be playing this event again!

After her ban expired, Sharapova returned to competition last month at the Stuttgart Open, reaching the semi-finals, and progressed to the last 32 of the Madrid Open, failing to earn a qualifying spot for the French Open, the second Grand Slam of the season, which starts later this month.

As revealed by The Times last week, the LTA have given Sharapova one of the four available wild cards after her ranking of No 258 on May 8 was too low to gain direct entry.