Maria Sharapova to play in US Open as wild card

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

The five-time grand slam champion will make her first major appearance since returning from a 15-month doping ban after being handed a wildcard for the main draw at Flushing Meadows.

Sharapova has played only four events since returning from a 15-month doping suspension in late April.

Tournament organizers can decide on wildcard entries to the main draw, and often give them to former champions or players making a comeback from injury.

Previous US Open champions who have received US Open main draw wildcards include Martina Hingis, Lleyton Hewitt, Kim Clijsters and Juan Martin Del Potro.

Sharapova, currently ranked at 148 on the WTA leaderboard, beat Justine Henin-Hardene to win her sole title in NY but she will now look to win a second US Open crown 11 years on from that triumph.

Serena Williams claims she needs to be "twice as good" as her opponents. The organizers of the tournament did not announce as of yet whether the Russian player accepted the wildcard and confirmed her participation.

But the US Tennis Association said her ban was not a factor in its considerations as she had served her punishment.

But she has "powerful supporters" in the sport who felt she was being harshly treated, while the attitude towards her in the USA has been "largely been more forgiving" than in Europe.

The next Grand Slam event, Wimbledon, did not render a verdict.

Starting the American hardcourt season at the Bank of West Classic she was forced to withdraw before her second match with a left arm injury, and that injury also forced her to withdraw from this week's tournament in Cincinnati.

The U.S. Open starts August 28, and will features the likes of Garbine Muguruza, Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber.

The decision many tournaments have made to hand Sharapova a wildcard has divided the tennis community, and the tournament is now likely to receive both praise and criticism for handing the Russian her first Grand Slam tournament since her return.

Williams has been all but true to her word, losing to Sharapova once since that Wimbledon final.

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