Sharapova to play at Birmingham Classic

Former world number one Maria Sharapova is set to make a return to grass-court tennis ahead of Wimbledon at the Birmingham Classic taking place from June 18-24.

The news was confirmed on Wednesday by Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).

“Maria is one of the biggest stars of her generation and a former champion in Birmingham, so it will be great to see her back on the grass courts of the Edgbaston Priory Club,” tournament director Patrick Hughesman said in a statement.

“This year’s line-up of players is already incredibly strong and we could get more big names signing up in the next couple of weeks.”

Sharapova has won the Birmingham event twice, 2004 and 2005, and will be hoping to get some form after her first round loss at the BNP Paribas Open last month.

She will join a very strong field competing at Birmingham which includes: British number one Johanna Konta, Czech Petra Kvitova and current Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain.

This will be the first time the 30-year-old Russian will be playing on grass since the 2015 Wimbledon semi-finals where she lost to eventual tournament winner Serena Williams.