MELBOURNE – Former world number one Maria Sharapova will be awarded a world card to play in this month's Australian Open, the organisers of the year's first Grand Slam said on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old Russian is currently ranked 147th in the world after a season in which a long-standing shoulder injury restricted her to eight tournaments.
Sharapova played her first match since losing in the first round of last year's U.S. Open at the Brisbane International on Tuesday but was defeated 3-6 6-1 7-6(3) by American qualifier Jennifer Brady.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed on Wednesday that the 2008 champion will receive a wildcard entry into the main singles draw for the tournament, which starts in Melbourne on Jan. 20.
She responded with a "Thank you!!" to a post from the official Australian Open Twitter which read: "We'll see you at #AO2020 @MariaSharapova..."