Maria Sharapova, of Russia, serves the ball to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, of Croatia, during the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Maria Sharapova to enter Wimbledon qualifying tournament
(Associated Press) - May 19, 2017 - 8:00pm

LONDON — Maria Sharapova will play in the Wimbledon qualifying tournament.

The 2004 champion at the All England Club, who returned last month from a 15-month doping ban, said yesterday in a post on her website that she will not request a wild card into the main draw at Wimbledon.

"Because of my improved ranking after the first three tournaments of my return, I will also be playing the Qualifying of Wimbledon in Roehampton, and will not be requesting a wild card into the main draw," the five-time Grand Slam champion wrote.

Earlier this week, the former top-ranked Russian had her request for a French Open wild card rejected by Roland Garros officials. The snub was criticized by the WTA, which said there were "no grounds to penalize her further."

The 30-year-old Sharapova, ranked only 211th but set to break into the top 200 on Monday, retired from her second-round match at the Italian Open on Tuesday after apparently injuring her left thigh.

"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," Sharapova wrote.

Since the end of her ban, Sharapova has used wild-card entries to play three events on the WTA Tour to get her world ranking up to a level where she can automatically enter anywhere again.

In her first tournament in Stuttgart, Sharapova won three matches to reach the semifinals before losing to Kristina Mladenovic.

Then, after defeating Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in her opening match in Madrid, she came up against Eugenie Bouchard, a Canadian who said Sharapova was a "cheater" and should be banned for life for doping.

Bouchard won 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.

Other players, including Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber, have been outspoken about Sharapova receiving free passes into events.

On Thursday, Sharapova was granted a wild card to play in the pre-Wimbledon tournament in Birmingham. The Aegon Classic begins on June 19, two weeks before Wimbledon.

Ironically, the last time Sharapova was forced to qualify for an event was at the Birmingham tournament in 2003.

Wimbledon qualifying starts on June 26 and Sharapova will need to win three matches to enter the main tournament.

The grass-court Grand Slam was where Sharapova won her first major tournament, beating Serena Williams in a one-sided final in 2004 when she was only 17. She had to wait another seven years before reaching the final again, losing to Petra Kvitova.
 

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