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Maria Sharapova to play first major in 18 months at US Open

Maria Sharapova

New York, Aug 16 (UITV/IANS)- Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has been given a wild card into the main draw of the US Open, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said.

"Sharapova has played in the US Open main draw 10 times before. In her last visit to New York, in 2014, she fell to Caroline Wozniacki in the round of 16," the USTA said in a statement on Tuesday, reports Efe.

The 30-year-old Sharapova has not appeared in a Grand Slam since losing to American Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals in 2016.

"The Russian, who has never lost a first-round match at Flushing Meadows, will be unseeded for just the second time. In her US Open debut in 2003, Sharapova was ranked No. 54. She is currently No. 148," the USTA said.

The five-time Grand Slam champion was initially suspended for two years for doping, but the penalty was later reduced to 15 months.

Sharapova tested positive for the banned substance meldonium at the Australian Open last year.

The Russian star returned to competition at the Stuttgart Open in April.

The 2006 US Open champion was denied a wild card into the French Open by the French federation and pulled out of the Wimbledon qualifying due to an injury.

Sharapova, a former World No.1 who has been listed as the highest-paid female athlete in the world, has been highly successful in modelling, fashion design and marketing products under her personal brand.

The US Open, the last Grand Slam of the year, starts on August 28.