Maria Sharapova has announced that she will not request a wildcard for the main draw of Wimbledon and will instead play in qualifying for the tournament after securing a high enough ranking to enter the qualifying draw following her return from a 15-month ban for the use of Meldonium. Her announcement comes just days after the FFT announced she would not receive a wildcard into the French Open.
The Russian, who has received a wild card into the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, confirmed in a statement on her website that she is excited to be heading to Birmingham after a receiving a wildcard offer a few months ago, but also said she would playing in qualifying tournament at Roehampton for Wimbledon, following her return to the top 200 after tournaments in Stuttgart, Madrid in Rome.
Furthermore, Sharapova stated that she was receiving treatment for the injury that forced her to retire against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in Rome and that she would begin to practice again as soon as possible.
Sharapova could return to the Grand Slam stage at SW19
Sharapova has not played at a Grand Slam tournament since the Australian Open last year, which happened to be the tournament she failed a drugs test at, though a successful run at Roehampton will see her return to the Grand Slam stage at the tournament she broke through at, beating heavy favorite Serena Williams in straight sets to take the title aged just 17 back in 2004.
Her decision to not try to get into the main draw directly will likely be applauded by many, especially several of her fellow WTA players who have previously expressed that they feel the Russian should not be receiving wildcards into tournaments. The news has attracted some controversy over a different matter however, with many pointing out that Sharapova’s presence in Roehampton conveniently coincides with a previous announcement that spectators will be charged to watch play for the first time in history.
It will be interesting to see, however, how the news of her wildcard into Birmingham is received; seven of the top ten ranked players, including struggling world number one Angelique Kerber and French Open favorite Simona Halep, are amongst those set to be in action, and it is likely that several players will be asked about the decision in the coming weeks.