The Bank of England Sports Centre in south London is likely to be busier than usual in June — the venue is going to host Maria Sharapova, who has confirmed she wants to secure a place at Wimbledon through the grand slam’s qualifying tournament.
Refused a wildcard for the French Open, Sharapova will need to negotiate three qualifying rounds if she’s to reach Wimbledon’s main draw.
“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 wild card into the main draw,” said Sharapova, who is ranked 211 in the world, in a statement Friday.
“I have already started getting treatment on the injury I sustained a few days ago in Rome, and will begin my preparation as soon I get better.”
Wimbledon qualifying provides 16 main draw places for men and 12 for women if they win through three rounds.
“All players receive ranking points and prize money and there is more money and ranking points on offer the more matches that they win,” said Wimbledon’s website.
Qualifying runs from June 26 to June, with the main tournament staged between July 3 to July 16.
Sharapova, 30, recently returned from a 15-month doping ban after admitting she had used the banned hormone and metabolic modulator meldonium.
The former world No. 1 reached the Stuttgart Open semifinals last month before losing to Eugenie Bouchard in the round of 32 in Madrid and retiring with a thigh injury in Rome.
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.
French Open organizers declined to offer the Russian a wildcard at Roland Garros — even for qualifying — which drew a stinging response from Sharapova and the head of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Steve Simon.
“I do not agree with is the basis put forward by the French Tennis Federation for their decision with respect to Maria Sharapova,” said Simon.
“She has complied with the sanction imposed by CAS.
“The tennis anti-doping program is a uniform effort supported by the Grand Slams, WTA, ITF, and ATP.
“There are no grounds for any member of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme to penalize any player beyond the sanctions set forth in the final decisions resolving these matters.”
The French Open draw was already missing one of its biggest stars as the pregnant Serena Williams takes time out before the birth of her first child.
‘Worth $195 million’
Sharapova is one of the most marketable stars in tennis and was estimated to be worth up to $195 million back in 2016.
Melodium was only banned at the beginning of 2016 but Sharapova said she had been taking it for over 10 years as she was magnesium deficient and had recorded several irregular electrocardiography (EKG) tests.
The five-time grand slam champion said that her team did not check the updated banned substance list and hence she tested positive for the drug at the 2016 Australian Open.
She was initially banned for two years but this was reduced to 15 months on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which stated she bore no “significant fault” and did not intend to cheat.
Meldonium “demonstrates an increase in endurance performance of athletes, improved rehabilitation after exercise, protection against stress, and enhanced activations of central nervous system functions,” according to a 2015 study in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis.