Former world No.1 Maria Sharapova will make her first grand slam appearance in more than 18 months after she was awarded a main-draw wildcard for the upcoming US Open.
The 30-year-old Russian, who returned from a 15-month doping ban earlier this year, was denied a wildcard at the French Open, then missed the grasscourt season, including Wimbledon, with a thigh injury.
Sharapova tested positive for the drug meldonium in 2016, which had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned substances list in January of that year.
The winner of five grand slam titles, including the 2006 US Open, said she was unaware of the change.
“Her suspension under the terms of the tennis anti-doping program was completed and therefore was not one of the factors weighed in our wild card selection process,” the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said in a statement.
“Additionally, Sharapova has volunteered to speak to young tennis players at the USTA National Campus about the importance of the tennis anti-doping program and the personal responsibility each player has to comply with the program’s requirements.”
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) August 15, 2017
Glad to see USTA give Maria Sharapova a wild card, suspension over, great for the sport to have her back. https://t.co/0l0jJuMKfL
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) August 15, 2017
Sharapova’s US Open preparations have been disrupted by an arm injury suffered during her first-round win over Jennifer Brady at the Stanford Classic earlier this month.
The world No.148 was forced to withdraw from the Rogers Cup and this week’s Cincinnati Open as a precautionary measure before the final grand slam of the year.
Sharapova is among eight women given entry into the 128-player field by the US Tennis Association – one of those wildcards will be awarded to an Australian after this weekend via an agreement with Tennis Australia.