Maria Sharapova receives main draw wildcard into U.S. Open

Maria Sharapova's continuing comeback from a 15-month drug suspension received a major boost when it was announced the Russian would be awarded a wild card into the main draw of the U.S. Open.

Sharapova, the 2006 champion in Flushing Meadows has struggled with injuries since reaching the semifinals in Stuttgart, her first tournament back. 

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USTA comments on their decision

A spokesperson for the United States Tennis Association told the BBC the following: 

"Her suspension under the terms of the tennis anti-doping program was completed and therefore was not one of the factors weighed in our wildcard selection process.

Consistent with past practice, a wildcard was provided to a past US champion who needed the wildcard for entry into the main draw.

Previous US Open champions who have received US Open main draw wildcards include Martina Hingis, Lleyton Hewitt, Kim Clijsters and Juan Martin Del Potro. 

Additionally, Sharapova has volunteered to speak to young tennis players at the USTA National Campus about the importance of the tennis anti-doping program and the personal responsibility each player has to comply with the program's requirements".

In response to their decision, Sharapova sent out a tweet showing her appreciation: "Thank you, @usopen. This is so so special. #goosebumps".

First major in almost two years for Sharapova

It was at the 2016 Australian Open where the Russian tested positive for the banned drug Meldonium. Upon her comeback she was denied a wild card for both the main draw and qualifying into the French Open.

The five-time major champion was set to compete at Roehampton for Wimbledon qualifying, but was forced to withdraw due to a muscle injury sustained in Rome a month earlier.

Injuries still hampering former world number one

After receiving a wild card into the Bank of The West Classic in Stanford, Sharapova was forced to withdraw prior to her second round match against Lesia Tsurenko after sustaining a forearm injury in the previous round against Jennifer Brady.

Sharapova was also granted a wild card into this week's Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, but was unable to compete due to that same forearm injury. She will not play next week in New Haven and will instead focus on New York.

Sharapova's U.S. Open history

Currently ranked 148 in the world, the Russian has a lifetime 32-9 record in Flushing Meadows, including her 2006 title over Justine Henin. She has made two additional semifinals in 2005 and 2012, losing to Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka, respectively.

The U.S. Open begins on August 28th.