Russian tennis star Sharapova getting ready for Wimbledon qualifiers

Maria Sharapova retires from match after French Open rejection

Maria Sharapova has been granted a wild card to play in the pre-Wimbledon tournament in Birmingham, two days after she was rejected by the French Open because of her recent doping ban.

Maria Sharapova wants to play Wimbledon but she has decided not to request a wild card into the main draw.

Qualifying in Roehampton will be ticketed for the first time this year.

She is just returning from a drug ban and the organizers cited the ban as the reason for denying her a wildcard.

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova announced on Friday her decision of taking part in the qualifying series of the Wimbledon tournament instead of waiting for a wildcard. The snub was criticized by the WTA, which said there were "no grounds to penalize her further".

The five-time grand slam tournament victor 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.

The Lawn Tennis Association have confirmed they have accepted a request from Maria Sharapova to play at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham next month.

As revealed by The Times last week, the LTA have given Sharapova one of the four available wild cards after her ranking of No 258 on May 8 was too low to gain direct entry.

After sitting out a provisional 15-month suspension, Sharapova, 30, made an impressive comeback last month at the tennis tournament in Stuttgart knocking out all of her opponents up to the semifinals.

Qualifying for Wimbledon begins May 26 at the Bank of England Sports Centre in Roehampton.

Sharapova was this week told that she would not be granted a wildcard invite to the French Open which starts later this month.

Wimbledon's wildcard committee, which meets on June 20, could have granted a wildcard to the former world number one.

The remaining Main Draw wild card announcements for Birmingham and our other events will be announced in the coming weeks.

She will need to win three matches to earn a place in the first round of the tournament itself.

She won the first of her five grand slams at Wimbledon in 2004.

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