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Sharapova handed US Open main draw wildcard

Former world number one Maria Sharapova will return to the grand slam scene courtesy of a US Open main draw wildcard.

MariaSharapova-Cropped
Five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova has been handed a wildcard for the main draw at the US Open, allowing her to make her first grand slam appearance since her doping ban.

The five-time major champion served a 15-month suspension after testing positive for meldonium at last year's Australian Open and returned in April at the Stuttgart Open, losing to Kristina Mladenovic in the semi-finals.

However, she was denied a wildcard for the French Open in May before a thigh injury forced her to miss Wimbledon.

But the Russian will now have the chance to replicate her 2006 success at Flushing Meadows after the United States Tennis Association confirmed her presence in the draw, Sharapova having pulled out of this week's Western & Southern Open with an arm problem to focus on the final grand slam of the year.

Sharapova's return to the WTA Tour has attracted significant controversy.

The 30-year-old received criticism from a number of players on tour after the announcement of her failed test, while Eugenie Bouchard labelled her "a cheater" and said she deserved a lifetime ban before beating her in the second round at the Madrid Open.

Her run to the last four in Stuttgart marks Sharapova's best performance since her return, with her early exit in Madrid followed by a second-round defeat in Rome before she pulled out at the same stage at the Bank of the West Classic due to her injured left forearm.

Sharapova progressed to the quarter-finals of the 2016 Australian Open in her last grand slam appearance. Since her triumph in New York 11 years ago, she has only gone beyond the fourth round at the US Open once - reaching the semi-finals in 2012.

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