Sharapova opts for Wimbledon qualification rounds over wildcard

Sharapova was denied a wildcard entry for the French Open earlier this week with French tennis authorities explaining that while special dispensation was granted to former top players returning from lengthy injuries, the same courtesy did not extent to players returning from doping bans.

Organisers of the event at Roland Garros confirmed that her doping suspension counted against her as he requested a wildcard entry to the tournament she has won on two occasions.

But Sharapova, who was given a wildcard to the Aegon Open in Birmingham on Thursday, has made a decision to try and qualify for Wimbledon in her own right.

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.

"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", she said.

'There can be a wildcard for the return of injuries - there cannot be a wildcard for the return from doping, ' FFT chief Bernard Giudicelli Ferrandini said.

On Thursday, Sharapova was granted a wild card to play in the pre-Wimbledon tournament in Birmingham.

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

She has denied using it for any performance-enhancing objective, and an initial two-year ban was cut on appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which concluded that while she committed an anti-doping violation there was "no significant fault" on her part.

The Roehampton qualifying tournament is ticketed for the first time this year and Sharapova will have to win three matches if she is to reach the main draw.

At the Italian Open this week, she retired in her second-round match after injuring her left thigh. "I'm very sorry for Maria, very sorry for her fans".

"She has complied with the sanction imposed by CAS".

Sharapova this week responded to her French Open wildcard snub with a defiant Twitter message, saying: "If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, everyday".

Her ban was later reduced to 15-months following a successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

  • Julie Sanders