Maria Sharapova says won't request wildcard for Wimbledon main draw

Maria Sharapova says won't request wildcard for Wimbledon main draw

"A few months ago, I received a wild card offer from Birmingham", said Sharapova on her website, "[which was] one of my most memorable tournaments as a young player.

With a world ranking above 200, she missed out on a place in French Open qualifying but has done enough for a spot in the Wimbledon qualifier.

Britain's Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) insisted that Maria Sharapova has already "paid the price" for her failed drug test as the governing body used commercial reasons to justify its controversial decision to give the Russian a wild card for the Aegon Classic in Birmingham.

Maria Sharapova has taken the decision on whether she should be given a wildcard to Wimbledon out of the tournament's hands by announcing she will compete in the qualifying rounds. But Sharapova, a two-time victor at Roland Garros, probably knows it better than anyone else that her dreams of making a strong comeback will take a lot to realise.

The five-time Grand Slam victor, 30, has been given a wildcard for the event in June having fallen down the world rankings after a 15-month drugs ban.

The former world No1 had seen her odds of being given a free pass into the Wimbledon main draw drift from 1/3 to 7/4 in the wake of the French Open snub.

The Wimbledon qualifying event, at the Bank of England Sports Grounds, will be ticketed for the first time this year, and there will be a live broadcast from one court.

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

Sharapova, 30, recently returned from a 15-month doping ban after admitting she had used the banned hormone and metabolic modulator meldonium.

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

The event was her third since coming back from suspension after she previously made the semi-finals in Stuttgart and the last 32 in Madrid.

She won the first of her five grand slams at Wimbledon in 2004.