Bengaluru, May 19: Amidst the much-talked about bad news for Maria Sharapova and her fans being denied a wildcard entry to the French Open, there is a good piece of news for the Russian now.
The 30-year-old has been granted a wild card to play in the pre-Wimbledon tournament in Birmingham, England on Thursday (May 18), two days after she was rejected by the French Open because of her recent doping ban.
Sharapova committed to the AEGON Classic for this year and the next year in return for a wild card, British Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Michael Downey said.
"This wasn't a decision we took lightly and we recognise not everyone will agree with it, however, Maria has served her ban in full and is now back playing high-quality tennis," Downey said.
The AEGON Classic begins on June 19, two weeks before the grand event of Wimbledon.
Sharapova won the title in Birmingham in 2004 and 2005 but she has not competed in the tournament for seven years. The superstar competing in the competition will certainly take the competition to new heights.
Since the end of her 15-month doping ban last month, Sharapova has used wild-card entries to play three events on the main WTA tour to try and get her world ranking up to a level where she can automatically enter anywhere again.
The whole Tennis world is divided over French Open’s decision to deny the former World number one a wildcard entry but this will certainly give her some breathing space.
Having retired injured in her second-round match, however, she will miss the ranking cut-off for the main draw entry and would need a wildcard from the All England Committee on June 20 to avoid having to win three rounds of qualifying.
She won the first of her five grand slams at Wimbledon in 2004.
Commenting on her AEGON Classic entry, she said: "I am really excited to be coming back to Birmingham ...as part of my build-up to Wimbledon and I thank the LTA for this opportunity."