Sharapova receives wild card into pre-Wimbledon event

Sharapova will have to win through three qualifying rounds to earn a spot in Wimbledon's 128-strong main draw.

Since returning from her 15-month doping ban last month, Sharapova has played in three events on the WTA tour in an attempt to get her world ranking to a level where she can automatically enter into any event, including the Grand Slams, once again.

The former world No1 had seen her odds of being given a free pass into the Wimbledon main draw drift from 1/3 to 7/4 in the wake of the French Open snub.

Sharapova commented: "I am really excited to be coming back to Birmingham this year to play on the grass as part of my build up to Wimbledon and I thank the LTA for this opportunity".

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"I have already started getting treatment on the injury I sustained a few days ago in Rome and will begin my preparation as soon I get better", she said.

Yesterday, it was confirmed Sharapova would feature at the Aegon Classic in the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham after being given a wildcard by the Lawn Tennis Association.

Grand Slam officials traditionally extend wild-card invitations to well-known players who have not met the qualifying requirements for reasons such as injury.

Early a year ago, Sharapova announced that doping tests revealed the presence of the banned performance enhancing drug, meldonium, in her body.

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Maria Sharapova, of Russian Federation, serves the ball to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, of Croatia, during the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Tuesday, May 16, 2017.

Sharapova is one of the most marketable stars in tennis and was estimated to be worth up to $195 million back in 2016.

Since her return at the Stuttgart Open the 30-year-old has won five of her eight matches but retired injured from her match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the Rome Open. I read very carefully articles 100 and 101 of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which reduced the length of your ban.

The announcement came 46 hours after the French Open refused to award Sharapova a wild card to Roland Garros.

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Sharapova last played at Wimbledon in 2015, when she lost in straight sets to Serena Williams in the semi-finals.

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