Considering the hullabaloo which Maria Sharapova’s return to the tour following her 15-month drug suspension has caused, it is disappointing to learn that she is now withdrawing from Birmingham and Wimbledon Qualifying with a torn muscle sustained at the Italian Open in Rome last month.
After an additional scan, the muscle tear that I sustained in Rome will unfortunately not allow me to compete in the grasscourt tournaments I was scheduled to play. Maria Sharapova
She announced her decision on Facebook at the weekend: “After an additional scan, the muscle tear that I sustained in Rome will unfortunately not allow me to compete in the grasscourt tournaments I was scheduled to play. I want to thank the LTA 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.
“I look forward to meeting you there next year. I will continue to work on my recovery and my next scheduled tournament is in Stanford.”
The Stanford event is part of the US Open warm-up campaign and takes place at the end of July.
No doubt the All England Club breathed a sigh of relief at the news as her involvement in the Qualifying event will have caused them some logistical headaches. Nonetheless the Club will continue to erect the stand as planned and spectators will still be limited to 1,000 paying £5 which will go to charity.
What is interesting is that her non-appearance during the grass court season, means she will not have sufficient ranking points to gain direct entry into the US Open and will have to play their qualifying tournament, unless the organisers of the final grand slam of the year decide not to follow the lead of the FFT and AELTC and issue a wildcard entry.