Five-time Grand Slam Champion, Maria Sharapova, will play the Aegon Classic Birmingham for the first time in seven years, and has committed to playing both the 2017 and 2018 events.
The former world No.1 is the first of seven Main Draw singles wild cards to be announced for this summer’s British WTA grass court events organised by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).
The Aegon Classic Birmingham takes place on the immaculate grass courts of Edgbaston Priory Club from 17th-25th June and attracts the world’s top female players to Birmingham as they preapre for Wimbledon.
Speaking about the announcement, LTA Chief Executive Michael Downey said, “We have received a two-year commitment from one of the most famous athletes in the world, Maria Sharapova, to play the Aegon Classic Birmingham. In return we are providing Maria with a Main Draw wild card for this year. 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.
She will face a star studded line up that includes eight of the world’s Top 10, headlined by British No.1 Johanna Konta and world No.1 Angelique Kerber. The WTA tournament in Birmingham promises to give British tennis fans an exciting, pre-Wimbledon grass court competition on their doorstep.”
The remaining Main Draw wild card announcements for Birmingham and our other events will be announced in the coming weeks. Additionally, there will be a further 12 wildcards (four per event) for the qualifying events and these will be confirmed in the week immediately preceding each tournament. The LTA expects the majority of these to be offered to eligible British players, but final decisions will be made in the coming weeks.
Sharapova, who has twice won the Maud Watson trophy, commented: “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. I have some great memories of playing there over the years, including winning the title on two previous occasions. 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.”
For further information on exclusive member ticket offers visit our dedicated Aegon Classic Birmingham page.