Sharapova receives wild card into pre-Wimbledon event

Maria Sharapova, of Russia, serves the ball to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, of Croatia, during the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Tu

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Maria Sharapova has been granted a wild card to play in the pre-Wimbledon tournament in Birmingham, two days after she was rejected by the French Open because of her recent doping ban.

British Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Michael Downey says Sharapova committed to the Aegon Classic for this year and next year in return for a wild card.

Downey says "this wasn't a decision we took lightly and we recognize not everyone will agree with it, however Maria has served her ban in full and is now back playing high quality tennis."

The Aegon Classic begins on June 19, two weeks before Wimbledon.

Sharapova won the title in Birmingham in 2004 and 2005. She has competed in the tournament seven times.