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Maria Sharapova will fight for Wimbledon place

 

By Robert Jones

Maria Sharapova has announced she will not seek a wild card into Wimbledon's main draw and will instead play the qualifying rounds to secure her place.

The Russian was denied a return to Grand Slam tennis at the French Open following her 15-month doping ban. The French Tennis Federation this week decided against offering her a wild card either to the main draw or to qualifying.

Now Sharapova has taken the decision on whether to give her a Wimbledon main draw wild card out of the hands of organisers by backing herself to come through the preliminaries, which take place at Roehampton in the week leading up to the grass-court major.

Sharapova, who was Wimbledon champion as a 17-year-old in 2004, said: "Because of my improved ranking after the first three tournaments of my return, I will be playing the qualifying of Wimbledon in Roehampton and will not be requesting a wild card into the main draw.

"I have already started getting treatment on the injury I sustained a few days ago in Rome."

Sharapova guaranteed she would be clear to enter the Wimbledon qualifiers by winning a first-round match against American Christina McHale at the Italian Open on Monday, before retiring injured in the third set against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

That came hours after the French tennis authorities turned her down for Roland Garros, saying it would be wrong to hand a wild card to a player returning from a doping suspension.

The five-time Grand Slam winner will climb into the top 200 on Monday, high enough to earn a trip to London, albeit for a Wimbledon match programme that will begin earlier than usual.

She will need to win three matches to earn a place in the first round.

Despite the Lawn Tennis Association welcoming her into the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, it was not a foregone conclusion Sharapova would be afforded such treatment by Wimbledon's sub-committee, headed by former British star Tim Henman.

Belfast Telegraph

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