The Russian, who won the title back in 2004 and reached the final back in 2011, is aiming to return to the Grand Slam stage after she was declined a wildcard into the French Open following her 15-month ban for the use of Meldonium.
Sharapova is by far the most notable name in the draw, though she is not the only player of note. Doubles world number one Bethanie Mattek-Sands headlines a strong American contingent of 13 players, whilst Chang Kai-Chen and Su-Wei Hsieh, both from Chinese Taipei, are set to be the top two seeds.
Sharapova’s participation attracting huge interest
Many were surprised when Sharapova, a two-time champion in Paris, was declined a wildcard into Roland Garros, though she announced that would not try to get a wildcard into the third Grand Slam tournament of the year after her ranking became high enough to enter.
Sharapova, who won her maiden Grand Slam title at the All England Club 13 years ago, will be unseeded in the qualification draw, meaning she could face another notable as early as the first round; every player will be hoping to avoid her in the draw.
The former world number one’s participation happens to coincide with some major changes at Roehampton. For the first time, there will be £5 charge for entry into the grounds and a maximum of 1000 people will be allowed in, whilst the matches will be televised for the first time. Senior figures have denied that this has anything to do with Sharapova’s participation, though some people have been sceptical of this.
Mattek-Sands, Townsend highlight American charge
There is already a strong American contingent in the main draw for the championships, though up to 13 more players could join them through the qualification draw.
The biggest American star in the draw will be Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The former top-30 player and doubles world number one reached the third round as a qualifier at the French Open, beating Petra Kvitova in the second round, and will be confident of making the main draw at SW19 as well.
Also in action will be former prodigy Taylor Townsend, who also qualified for the French Open. Alongside her and Mattek-Sands, Louisa Chirico is the only other American player set to be seeded at the tournament. The other Americans in action are Sachia Vickery, Asia Muhammad, Kristie Ahn, Jamie Loeb, Kayla Day, Samantha Crawford, Sofia Kenin, Grace Min, Danielle Collins, and Irina Falconi.
Top seeds, British stars amongst other notable names
The two top seeds for the draw will be Chang Kai-Chen and Su-Wei Hsieh both from Chinese Taipei. Kai-Chen will be hoping to do better than she did at the French Open, where she fell in the second round of the qualification draw, whilst Su-Wei will be hoping for a run like she had in Paris, where she reached the third round after making the draw; she defeated Johanna Konta in the first round.
Lin Zhu and Xinyun Han of China are set to be the third and fourth seeds at the tournament, with Belgians Maryna Zanevska and former French Open quarterfinalist Alison Van Uytvanck set to be the fifth and sixth seeds respectively. Other notable names include Ons Jabeur, who, as a lucky loser, beat Dominika Cibulkova in Paris just last week, Aleksandra Krunic, who beat Petra Kvitova at the US Open in 2014, former top-20 star Kaia Kanepi, and young Australian star Destanee Aiava.
Three British players are also set to be in action. Heather Watson, Naomi Broady, and Tara Moore are all set to be in action, though it seems likely that all of them will receive wildcards into the main draw.