Maria Sharapova to enter Wimbledon qualifying tournament

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The 30-year-old returned last month from a 15-month doping ban, but has not yet managed to earn a high enough ranking to enter directly into the main Wimbledon draw.

Through a statement on her website, the Russian explained the schedule of her grass court games, three days after the French Open authorities refused her request for an invitation, reports Efe.

The Bank of England Sports Centre in south London is likely to be busier than usual in June - the venue is going to host Maria Sharapova, who has confirmed she wants to secure a place at Wimbledon through the grand slam's qualifying tournament.

Shortly thereafter, Sharapova was forced to withdraw from the Italian Open in the middle of her second-round match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni due to a thigh injury.

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Speaking about the announcement on Thursday, LTA Chief Executive Michael Downey said: "We have received a two-year commitment from one of the most famous athletes in the world, Maria Sharapova, to play the Aegon Classic Birmingham".

Despite the Lawn Tennis Association welcoming her into the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, it was not a foregone conclusion that Sharapova would be afforded such treatment by Wimbledon's tennis sub-committee.

That match came less than an hour after the FFT turned her down for Roland Garros, saying it would be wrong to hand a wildcard to a player returning from a doping suspension.

"While wildcards exist for players returning from injury, there is nothing for a return from a doping ban", he said.

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However, with a first round win over Christina McHale at the Rome Masters on Monday (May 15), Sharapova guaranteed herself a slot in the qualification rounds of Wimbledon as it pushed her back into the top 200 of the world rankings.

However her hopes of securing a wildcard are now looking slim especially after the French Open denied her enter into the tournament.

Instead, she will attempt to crash the field by playing the qualifying tournament. Sharapova won 6-4, 6-4.

Men's world number one Andy Murray and several female players have said those returning from drugs bans should not be given wildcard entries to tournaments.

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