Maria Sharapova has been handed a wild card to the Aegon Classic in Birmingham this summer, one of the most significant warm-up tournaments for Wimbledon.

The former world No. 1, who returned from a 15 month drug ban last month, has committed to playing in the event in 2017 and 2018.

Lawn Tennis Association 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.

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“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.”

Organisers at Wimbledon however are expected to follow their contemporaries at the French Open and not give Sharapova a wild card for this summer’s tournament.

Organisers at the French Open confirmed on Tuesday that they would not hand Sharapova a place at Roland Garros, with French Tennis Federation president Bernard Guidicelli insisting “then there cannot be a wild card for return from doping.”

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In response Sharapova wrote on Twitter: “If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, everyday. No words, games, or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams. And I have many.”

The 2004 champion at SW19 secured her place in Wimbledon qualifying by beating Christina McHale in the second round of the Italian Open earlier this week.

The 30-year-old was banned for two years after testing positive for meldonium but had her ban reduced by the Court of Arbitration of Sport.

Since her return at the Stuttgart Open the 30-year-old has won five of her eight matches but retired injured from her match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the Rome Open.

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