Maria Sharapova given Australian Open wildcard


Maria Sharapova won the Australian Open in 2008
2020 Australian Open
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 20 January to 2 February
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

Former champion Maria Sharapova has been handed a wildcard for the Australian Open as she seeks to put behind her an injury-hit 2019.

The 32-year-old Russian former world number one has dropped to 147th after playing just 15 matches last year because of a long-term shoulder injury.

Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova was beaten in the first round of the Brisbane International on Tuesday.

It was her first match since losing in the US Open first round in September.

Her current ranking means she would have had to come through qualifying to reach the main draw of the opening Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne.

The 2008 Australian Open champion failed a drugs test at the 2016 edition, which led to a 15-month ban from tennis.

She reached the fourth round of last year’s tournament, losing in three sets to Ashleigh Barty, who has since become world number one.

“To be in the draw of the Australian Open is incredible,” said Sharapova, who also reached the final in 2007, 2012 and 2015.

“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.

“So to have another chance, another opportunity, to compete on all those courts is very special.”

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