Maria Sharapova handed wildcard for Aegon Classic

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The long-running debate over Maria Sharapova's wild cards has reached a welcome conclusion, for the moment at least, after she announced that she would not be requesting a wild card for Wimbledon's main draw.

Sharapova was initially banned for two years after testing positive for then newly-banned heart condition drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

Sharapova will, however, attend the Aegon Classic in Birmingham two weeks prior to Wimbledon and a week before qualifying, after being granted a place at the event.

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.

This week, she was refused a wild card for the French Open, with French Tennis Federation [FFT] president Bernard Giudicelli saying: "'There can be a wild card for the return from injuries; there cannot be a wild card for the return from doping".

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

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Earlier this week, the former top-ranked Russian had her request for a French Open wild card rejected by Roland Garros officials. The five-time Grand Slam victor had plummeted to 211. "I am so grateful and excited to be playing at this event again!"

"This wasn't a decision we took lightly and we recognise not everyone will agree with it, however Maria has served her ban in full and is now back playing high quality tennis", said LTA chief executive Michael Downey in a statement. Wimbledon's website states wild cards are typically offered "on the basis of past performance at Wimbledon or to increase British interest".

On Thursday, Sharapova was granted a wild card to play in the pre-Wimbledon tournament in Birmingham.

Since her return at the Stuttgart Open the 30-year-old has won five of her eight matches but retired injured from her match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the Rome Open.

Her ban was later reduced to 15-months following a successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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