Tennis

Maria Sharapova faces history in her bid to be Wimbledon champion.

Maria Sharapova faces historic task at this year's Wimbledon

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Maria Sharapova is set for a mammoth task at Wimbledon this year after deciding against submitting a wildcard request. 

Instead, the Russian will likely enter as a qualifier, and her bid to win the competition is something that is yet to be accomplished.

Only returning from her 15-month doping ban last month, the 2004 Wimbledon champion has failed to meet the requirements for automatic qualification at the 2017 championship.

Her performances since getting back on the court have seen Sharapova rise through the rankings enough that she is eligible for the qualifying tournament in Roehampton, setting up three rounds of qualification for July's main tournament.

Sharapova announced the news on her website, saying: "Because of my improved ranking after the first three tournaments of my return, I will also be playing ...in Roehampton, and will not be requesting a wildcard."

Injury in the second round of the Italian Open prevented her from reaching a semi-final place that would have secured automatic qualification, and Sharapova has already begun treatment on the injury as she starts her preparation for qualification.

Rejecting the wildcard leaves the 30-year-old with a 10-match run to the trophy, and if she manages to achieve that feat, she would become the first qualifier to win the women's singles title.

The current record by a qualifier is a semi-final place, achieved by Alexandra Stevenson in 1999, leaving Sharapova needing to go two wins better than any qualifier in history to cement what would be the most improbable comeback.

The Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2017 - Day Three

The return of Sharapova has created controversy, and led to criticism from fellow players.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) decided against issuing a wildcard for this year's French Open, and this decision would have led to pressure on the Wimbledon wildcard committee to do the same when they meet next month.

Banned for two years in 2016 for the drug meldonium, Maria Sharapova saw her ban reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Returning earlier this year, she has an opportunity to make a huge statement at the biggest championship of the year.

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Topics:
Tennis
Rafael Nadal
Maria Sharapova
Wimbledon
Roger Federer
Novak Djokovic
Andy Murray

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