Maria Sharapo va said yesterday that she will not seek a wildcard into Wimbledon’s main draw and will instead play the qualifying rounds to secure her place.
The Russian was denied a return to grand slam tennis at the French Open following her 15-month doping ban. The French Tennis Federation this week decided against offering her a wildcard either to the main draw or to qualifying.
Now Sharapova has taken the decision on whether to give her a Wimbledon main draw wildcard out of the hands of organisers by backing herself to come through the preliminaries, which take place at Roehampton in the week leading up to the grass-court major.
In a statement on her website, titled “An update on my grass court tournament schedule,” Sharapova said: “A few months ago, I received a wildcard offer from Birmingham, one of my most memorable tournaments as a young player. I am so grateful and excited to be playing this event again.
“Because of my improved ranking after the first three tournaments of my return, I will also be playing the qualifying of Wimbledon in Roehampton, and will not be requesting a wild card into the main draw.
“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.”
Sharapova guaranteed she would be clear to enter the Wimbledon qualifiers by winning a first-round match against American Christina McHale at the Italian Open on Monday, before retiring injured in the third set against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni a day later.
That came hours after the French tennis authorities turned her down for Roland Garros, saying it would be wrong to hand a wildcard to a player returning from a doping suspension.
The five-time grand slam tournament winner will climb into the top 200 on Monday, high enough to earn a trip to London, albeit for a Wimbledon match programme that will begin earlier than usual.
She will need to win three matches to earn a place in the first round of the tournament itself.
Sharapova was banned from the sport after testing positive for meldonium, which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list at the start of 2016.