Tennis: Former winner Sharapova says she won't request Wimbledon wild card but play in qualifiers

Maria Sharapova of Russia returning the ball to Christina McHale of US during their tennis match at the ATP Tennis Open tournament at the Foro Italico in Rome, on May 15, 2017.
Maria Sharapova of Russia returning the ball to Christina McHale of US during their tennis match at the ATP Tennis Open tournament at the Foro Italico in Rome, on May 15, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Former Wimbledon tennis champion Maria Sharapova said she will not request a wild card for this year's championships after failing to gain a high-enough ranking for direct entry to the main draw.

The 30-year-old Russian, who returned last month from a 15-month doping ban, said on her website she would play in the qualifying event staged the week before.

"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 wildcard," Sharapova said on her website.

The 2004 champion is ranked 211th, below the cut-off for direct entry, although her first-round win at this week's Italian Open means she is assured a place in the qualifying tournament played a few km away from Wimbledon.

Wimbledon's wildcard committee, which meets on June 20, could have granted a wild card to the former world No. 1.

Five-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova would have needed to reach the semi-finals in Rome to climb high enough to gain a spot in the main Wimbledon draw, but she withdrew during her second-round match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni after injuring her left hamstring.

On Tuesday, the two-time French Open champion was unexpectedly snubbed by organisers, who decided against giving her a wild card into the main draw or the qualifying event of this year's tournament, which begins on May 28.