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Maria Sharapova to play in Aegon Classic Birmingham


The Russian, who returned last month from a 15-month doping ban, had her request for a French Open wild card rejected by Roland Garros officials earlier this week.

Maria Sharapova will not request a wildcard for the main draw of Wimbledon and will instead begin her campaign at SW19 through qualifying.

Sharapova committed to the Aegon Classic for this year and next year in return for a wild card, British Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Michael Downey said. I am so grateful and excited to be playing the event again!

Her ranking is not yet good enough to reach the main draw of Wimbledon so she will need to go through the qualifying rounds which take place the week after the Birmingham event.

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

The decision will place added scrutiny on Wimbledon's decision whether to offer Sharapova a wildcard into their main draw this summer. Wimbledon donates a large share of its profits to the LTA but the grand slam oversees its own tournament independently of the governing body.

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"I do not agree with is the basis put forward by the French Tennis Federation for their decision with respect to Maria Sharapova", said Simon.

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.

Shortly thereafter, Sharapova was forced to withdraw from the Italian Open in the middle of her second-round match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni due to a thigh injury.

All England Club chairman Philip Brook said on May 3: "We will wait and see whether Maria applies for a wild card and, if so, we will consider the case alongside everyone else's".

She was initially banned for two years for using meldonium, with the penalty later reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which ruled she was not an intentional doper.

Sharapova is Russia's most accomplished tennis player who has won a total of five Grand Slam tournaments, namely the Australian Open in 2008, the French Open in 2012 and 2014, Wimbledon in 2004 and the US Open in 2006.

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