Maria Sharapova to enter Wimbledon qualifying tournament

She said she would not request a wild card for Wimbledon - although the cashed-up Grand Slam tournament would not have had the same commercial reason as Birmingham to grant her one.

The 30-year-old is trying to rebuild her career after spending 15 months out due to a doping ban, which has ruled her out of contention for the French Open. The French Tennis Federation this week decided against offering her a wild card either to the main draw or to qualifying.

The five-time Grand Slam women's singles title victor announced today that she has chose to try her luck in the preliminary rounds, being played at Roehampton's Bank of England Sports Centre, of the tournament which she won in 2004 as a 17-year-old.

The Russian also allayed fears about a thigh injury that saw her retire from this week's Rome Masters.

Since the end of her ban, Sharapova has used wild-card entries to play three events on the WTA Tour to improve her world ranking to the point at which she can automatically enter anywhere again.

After her French Open snub, Sharapova was granted a wildcard to compete in the AEGON Classic in Birmingham next month.

Wimbledon's wildcard committee meets on June 20 but Sharapova has backed herself to come through the preliminaries.

The decision will place added scrutiny on Wimbledon's decision whether to offer Sharapova a wildcard into their main draw this summer.

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

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

The five-time grand slam champion said that her team did not check the updated banned substance list and hence she tested positive for the drug at the 2016 Australian Open.

Eugenie Bouchard recently beat Sharapova shortly after voicing her displeasure at the Russian being allowed to play at the top tournaments. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reduced the sanction to 15 months, saying she was not an "intentional doper".

Sharapova's performance at the tournament in Stuttgart returned her to the WTA rankings, from which she was excluded last October.

  • Julie Sanders