The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has accepted a request from Maria Sharapova to play at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham next month.

Press Association Sport understands Sharapova approached the LTA about receiving a wild card for the grass-court event and the organisation has agreed.

Sharapova was refused automatic entry to the French Open on Tuesday, with her ranking still too low to qualify by right. She returned from a 15-month ban in April after testing positive for meldonium.

The LTA’s call to grant the world number 211 a free pass for the Aegon Classic, which runs from June 19-25, is likely to draw criticism from those that believe players suspended for doping should not be given special privileges.

Andy Murray has been clear in his view that returning offenders should have to work their way back up and the same opinion has been expressed by a number of players on the WTA Tour. It will also place added scrutiny on Wimbledon’s decision whether to offer Sharapova a wild card into their main draw this summer.

Sharapova has accumulated enough points already to enter Wimbledon qualifying but an All England Club sub-committee will meet on June 20 to decide which players will be fast-tracked into the first round proper.

Andy Murray has been clear in his view that returning offenders should have to work their way back up (Adam Davy/PA)
Andy Murray has been clear in his view that returning offenders should have to work their way back up (Adam Davy/PA)

Wimbledon donates a large share of its profits to the LTA but the grand slam oversees its own tournament independently of the governing body.

Sharapova retired injured from her match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome on Tuesday after beating American Christina McHale to reach the second round. The event was her third since coming back from suspension after she previously made the semi-finals in Stuttgart and the last 32 in Madrid.

The Russian has also been offered a wild card to play at the WTA Ricoh Open in Holland next month, continuing a trend of smaller tournaments welcoming Sharapova back, perhaps with commercial incentives in mind.

In response to the French Open’s controversial decision, Sharapova wrote on her official Twitter page on Wednesday: “If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, everyday. No words, games, or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams. And I have many.”