LONDON — Former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova said she will not request a wildcard 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 211, 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 miles away from Wimbledon.
Wimbledon’s wildcard committee, which meets on June 20, could have granted a wildcard to the former world No. 1.
Sharapova would have needed to reach the semifinals 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, two-time French Open champion Sharapova was unexpectedly snubbed by organizers who decided against giving her a wildcard into the main draw or the qualifying event of this year’s tournament, which begins on May 28.
Sharapova will probably have to win 10 matches to claim a second Wimbledon title this year after deciding not to request a wildcard.
Set to enter the top 200 Monday, however, she is eligible to play in the qualifying event the week before in Roehampton, where she would need to survive three rounds just to take her place in round one at the All England Club.
Her decision takes the heat off the Wimbledon wildcard committee.
Sharapova will have to break new ground if she is to win Wimbledon this year as no qualifier has won the women’s singles title.
American Alexandra Stevenson came closest when she reached the semifinal in 1999 before losing to Lindsay Davenport.
John McEnroe reached the men’s singles semifinals as a qualifier in 1977. — Agencies