Sharapova to make grasscourt return in Birmingham
LONDON: Former world number one Maria Sharapova will compete at the Birmingham Classic grasscourt event in the lead-up to Wimbledon, Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) announced on Wednesday.
The June 18-24 tournament is set to be the Russian’s first on grass since she reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2015.
Sharapova, who won the Birmingham title in 2004 and 2005, was granted a wildcard at the event last year before a thigh injury forced her to skip the grasscourt season.
The five-time grand slam winner has failed to rediscover her best form after returning from a doping ban last year and split with coach Sven Groeneveld following a first-round exit at the BNP Paribas Open last month.
The defeat in California was the first time Sharapova had lost three consecutive matches since 2003 and the Russian has since withdrawn from the Miami Open with a forearm injury.
The 30-year-old joins a strong field in Birmingham, including Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain, British number one Johanna Konta and Czech Petra Kvitova, who lifted the trophy at the Edgbaston Priory Club last year.
“Maria is one of the biggest stars of her generation and a former champion in Birmingham, so it will be great to see her back on the grass courts of the Edgbaston Priory Club,” tournament director Patrick Hughesman said in a statement.
“This year’s line-up of players is already incredibly strong and we could get more big names signing up in the next couple of weeks.”