Maria Sharapova officially received a wild card to play in the Birmingham main draw from 19 to 25 June 2017. The Russian player signed a two-year deal and so will play also in 2018 as a sort of thanking the organizers for the wild card given this year.
The Lawn Tennis Association Chief Executive Michael Downey admitted '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.
There’s always a lot of debate about who we give wild cards to. Now that Maria has earned direct entry into Wimbledon qualifying, we want to give British tennis fans the chance to see her compete on grass here in Britain beforehand.' In Birmingham also Angelique Kerber, Karolina Pliskova and other top ten players (see full entry lists here) are committed to play.
'I am really excited to be coming back to Birmingham this year to play on the grass as part of my build up to Wimbledon and I thank the LTA for this opportunity', said Sharapova. 'I have some great memories of playing there over the years, including winning the title on two previous occasions (in 2004 and 2005).
I am looking forward to seeing all the recent improvements the tournament has made to establish itself as one of the best grass court events in the world.' It seems Sharapova won't play 's-Hertogenbosch event, that offered her a wild card but they Just announced Agnieszka Radwanska to play the event.
Meanwhile, according to rumours Wimbledon would not be available to give a wild card to Sharapova, who will probably be forced to play in the qualifying draw. No decision will be made before June 20. ALSO READ: Maria Sharapova: 'Nothing will ever stop me from reaching my dreams'