Former world number one Maria Sharapova has signed a deal with the Lawn Tennis Association to play at Birmingham’s Aegon Classic for the next two years.

The five-time Grand Slam winner, 30, has been given a wildcard for the event in June having fallen down the world rankings after a 15-month drugs ban.

The LTA will not pay the Russian an appearance fee.

“This wasn’t a decision we took lightly and not everyone will agree with it,” said LTA chief Michael Downey.

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