Maria Sharapova has been given a wild card for the upcoming Australian Open.
The Russian, who won in Melbourne in 2008, is ranked 147th in the world and was outside the automatic qualifying places for the first Slam of the year.
She was also the beaten finalist at the tournament in 2007, 2012 and 2015 but has been struggling for form this season and suffered an opening round lost at the warm-up event in Brisbane this week.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 8, 2020
Sharapova reached the fourth round at the tournament last season and she's thanked the tournament organisers for handing her a place in this year's event:
“To be in the draw of the Australian Open is incredible.
“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 to compete on all those courts is very special.”
Thank you!! 😊☀️🎾 https://t.co/efp9joWeOd
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) January 8, 2020