Sharapova to enter Wimbledon qualifying

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Maria Sharapova in a statement said that she won't request a wildcard into this year's Wimbledon due to her "improved ranking" and she would playing in the qualifiers.

The 30-year-old, who was eliminated last Tuesday in the second round of the Italian Open, also explained that she has accepted an invitation from the Birmingham Classic, one of her "most memorable tournaments as a young player".

Sharapova, who has won five grand slams, added: "I am really excited to be coming back to Birmingham this year to play on the grass as part of my build up to Wimbledon and I thank the LTA for this opportunity".

Men's world number one Andy Murray and several female players have said those returning from drugs bans should not be given wildcard entries to tournaments.

Sharapova's performance at the tournament in Stuttgart returned her to the WTA rankings, from which she was excluded last October.

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Sharapova's attempts to secure a wildcard for this month's French Open were rejected by the French Tennis Federation this week. She has, however, received an invitation to the traditional Wimbledon warmup tournament in Birmingham, England.

The Aegon Classic in Birmingham has now offered Sharapova the chance to fine-tune her grass court game after she committed to appear there next year as well.

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. Sharapova said on her website.

The tennis player was initially set to serve a two-year suspension for violating anti-doping regulations starting January 26, 2016.

While this ended her hopes of qualifying on merit for Wimbledon's main draw, a decision on whether she is granted a main draw spot will be taken on June 20, according to reports. The Edgbaston Priory Club is a venue at which she has previously performed well, winning the event in 2004 - before going on to become Wimbledon champion at...

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