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Sharapova handed Aussie Open wildcard

Sharapova handed Aussie Open wildcard

TENNIS: Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova said it was “very special” after being handed an Australian Open wildcard yesterday (Jan 8) as she attempts to resurrect her career after an injury-plagued 2019.

Tennis
By AFP

Thursday 9 January 2020, 07:30AM


“Very special” is how Maria Sharapova described receiving a wild card to next week’s Australian Open in Melbourne. Photo: AFP

“Very special” is how Maria Sharapova described receiving a wild card to next week’s Australian Open in Melbourne. Photo: AFP

The 32-year-old, who won the tournament in 2008, has slipped down the rankings to 147, outside automatic qualification, and was bounced out of the Brisbane International this week in the first round.

But the Russian remains a big name and she will line up at Melbourne Park for a 16th time since her debut in 2003.

“To be in the draw of the Australian Open is incredible,” Sharapova said.

“I've had wonderful experiences there, from holding the championship trophy to losing some very tough finals as well - there's been a lot of ups and downs in Australia.

“So to have another chance, another opportunity, to compete on all those courts is very special.”

She reached the fourth last year, upsetting defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in an epic third round win.

Until Brisbane, Sharapova had not played since a first-round loss to career-long rival Serena Williams at the US Open in August, with her season ruined by a shoulder injury.

“It was a long match. I think this is going to be a good test for my shoulder, not so much right now, but maybe tomorrow and the day after to see how I feel," she said after her Brisbane defeat on Tuesday (Jan 7).

“I definitely lost speed on it and strength toward the end of the match, but that comes with time. I have to be patient with that."

Sharapova also revealed she had been battling a virus “where I just couldn't keep anything in.”

Earlier this week Sharapova donated Aus$25,000 to help with the Australian bushfire relief and support efforts, then encouraging fellow player Novak Djokovic to do the same.

“The month of January in Australia has been my home for the past 15 years,” Sharapova wrote on Twitter.

“Watching the fires destroy the lands, its beautiful families and communities of animals is deeply heartbreaking.”

Sharapova also donated 10 pairs of her tennis shoes that she autographed for fans to bid for.

“I've signed ten pairs of my tennis shoes, left them at the Brisbane Tennis Desk at the Westin Hotel, alongside a donation envelope for fire rescue efforts,” Sharapova said on Twitter.

“They're yours to keep, we just ask you to donate $300 a pair.

“All money going directly to the Red Cross.”

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