Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova's hopes of rebuilding her career after the doping ban took a hit when the 30-year old had to withdraw from Wimbledon due to a thigh injury. The Russian was expected to play the qualifiers of the Grand Slam in a bid to enter the main competition.
On Saturday, Maria Sharapova announced that she would be withdrawing from the qualifiers of Wimbledon after failing to recover from a thigh injury she suffered during the Rome Maters tournament in May earlier this year.
"After an additional scan, the muscle tear that I sustained in Rome will unfortunately not allow me to compete in the grass court tournaments I was scheduled to play, I will continue to work on my recovery and my next scheduled tournament is in Stanford from July 31." she said in a statement.
The 30-year old Russian made a comeback to tennis in April this year following a 15-month doping ban and has since then relied on wildcard entries to get into tournaments courtesy a dip in her ranking during the ban. The former World No. 1 has currently dropped to 178 in women's singles rankings.
Sharapova was banned for a period of two years initially by the Court of Arbitration for Sport which later reduced the ban to fifteen months following the Russian being adjudged of not being an intentional doper.
The five-time Grand Slam winner made a comeback at the Stuttgart Open in April where she reached the semi-finals and later progressed to the round of 32 in the Madrid Open.
However, her ranking was not enough to earn her a spot in the French Open and the 30-year old was denied a wildcard entry by the organisers although she has already won the clay court championship twice. Following her French Open snub, Sharapova opted to earn a spot at Wimbledon by playing in the three-round qualifiers.
However, the Russian star was handed a controversial wildcard for the WTA grasscourt event scheduled in Birmingham later this month which is a key tournament before Wimbledon. Following the injury though, Sharapova will not feature in the grasscourt event and will be hoping to get another wildcard entry into the US Open commencing in August this year which is the last Grand Slam of the current season.
"I want to thank the LTA (Britain's Lawn Tennis Association) for their amazing support on my return and providing me with a Birmingham wild card, a tournament which I hope many of you will be able to attend," Sharapova added in her statement.
"I look forward to meeting you there next year." she concluded.
Wimbledon rolled out the decision of broadcasting and ticketing the qualifiers for the first time just two weeks ago which according to the organisers was planned before Sharapova's inclusion in the event.
"This was one of several "long-planned" changes and not a decision made in response to the added interest in the event caused by Sharapova's presence," a spokeswoman for the All England Lawn Tennis Club, the tournament organisers explained.