Former champion Maria Sharapova gets Australian Open wild card

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Former champion Maria Sharapova gets Australian Open wild card

Five-time Major winner and 2008 Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova will compete in Melbourne for the 16th time in two weeks, receiving the main draw wild card. Struggling with a shoulder injury and playing only a couple of tournaments in 2019, Sharapova dropped out from the top-100 and stayed away from the court since the US Open, making progress with that injury and opening the new season in Brisbane, also with a wild card.

On Tuesday, Maria lost to Jennifer Brady in the third set tie break, playing well and giving her best to score a win despite a virus that has been bothering her for a couple of weeks. Ready to play as many matches as possible, Maria is excited about another opportunity to hit the courts at Melbourne Park, making a debut there at the age of 15 in 2003 and lifting the trophy five years later.

Serena Williams defeated Sharapova in the final in 2015 and the Russian is hoping for another great run at the Major where she scored 57 wins, the most at any of four biggest tournaments. "To be in the draw of the Australian Open is incredible," Sharapova said.

"I've had wonderful experiences there, from holding the championship trophy to losing some very tough finals as well - there's been a lot of ups and downs in Australia. It is very special to have another chance to compete on all those courts at Melbourne Park.

I've always structured my schedule to give everything I can to be in the best physical shape for those tournaments. It's kind of always been my thinking process, but even more so because I have to be a little bit smarter toward the end of my career.

I've been fighting a virus for a couple of weeks and ended up in the hospital the other day, so that wasn't fun. I couldn't keep anything in but that's the extent that I'm going to share with you. I think I'm always disappointed because it's a result-oriented sport but I have to be proud of my effort.

Yes, there are a lot of improvements I need to make but I fought hard in Brisbane, doing a lot better than I expected of my body."