LONDON • Maria Sharapova withdrew from Wimbledon on Saturday after failing to recover from a thigh injury.
The 30-year-old Russian, who was champion at the All England Club in 2004, was due to play in the qualifying event in the hope of making the main draw.
"After an additional scan, the muscle tear that I sustained in Rome will unfortunately not allow me to compete in the grass-court tournaments I was scheduled to play," the five-time Grand Slam champion said in a statement.
"I will continue to work on my recovery and my next scheduled tournament is in Stanford from July 31."
The former world No. 1 returned from a 15-month doping ban in April but has relied on wild cards to get into tournaments because her world ranking points expired while she was banned.
She returned to competition in April at the Stuttgart Open, reaching the semi-finals, and progressed to the last 32 of the Madrid Open.
She failed to earn a qualifying spot for the French Open and was denied a wild card into the main draw by Roland Garros organisers despite being a two-time champion. On the same day, she suffered the thigh injury which has now delayed her comeback.
The world No. 178 was still controversially handed a wild card for the WTA grass-court event in Birmingham this month, a key warm-up for Wimbledon.
Missing the whole grass season means Sharapova will not be ranked high enough for direct entry into the US Open, the season's final Grand Slam event.
Tournament officials will have to decide whether to offer their 2006 champion a wild card.
Only two weeks ago, Wimbledon decided that the qualifying event, held at nearby Roehampton, would be broadcast for the first time.
A spokesman for the All England Lawn Tennis Club, the tournament organisers, told AFP that this was one of several "long-planned" changes and not a decision made in response to the added interest in the event caused by Sharapova's presence.
Qualifying is also to be ticketed this year for the first time.