Maria Sharapova ‘takes tough decision’ to skip Birmingham event

Maria Sharapova looking dejected

Maria Sharapova has pulled out of the Birmingham Classic as she “needs to take care of her body”.

After struggling for form during the early parts of the 2018 season, Sharapova found some rhythm during the latter stages of the clay-court season as she reached the Italian Open semi-final and the Roland Garros quarter-final.

The Russian was expected to kick off her Wimbledon preparations in Birmingham next week, but she has now decided to sit out the grass-court event.

“I have good memories of Birmingham so I’m disappointed not to be able to play this year,” she said.

“I need to take care of my body and make sure I stay healthy and sometimes that means you have to take tough decisions like this one.”

Madison Keys, who reached the semi-final of the French Open last year, has also pulled out of the grass-court event.

“I am sorry to have to pull out of Birmingham this year,” the American said in a statement.

“Everyone knows how much I love playing on grass and I was looking forward to starting my grass season there, but unfortunately I aggravated an injury I sustained in Rome and need to rest as much as I can right now. I look forward to returning to Birmingham next year and playing in front of its great fans.”