Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova will return to Birmingham in June, joining reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, defending champion Petra Kvitova, British No.1 Johanna Konta, rising star Naomi Osaka and a host of other big names at the newly-renamed Nature Valley Classic.
30-year-old Sharapova is one of only five female players to win all four Grand Slam titles, including her famous victory at Wimbledon in 2004 at the age of 17, just a few weeks after she lifted the first of her two Nature Valley Classic trophies. The Russian defended her Birmingham title the following year, and finished runner-up at the Edgbaston Priory Club in 2007 and 2010.
This announcement follows the news that Sharapova will be competing at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose in July.
“I’m excited to return to play the Nature Valley Classic. I feel like the fans in Birmingham and I go back a long way and I’ve got a lot of good memories of playing there,” said Sharapova, who was due to play the event in 2017 before being forced to withdraw through injury. “It’s going to feel really good to be back out there playing again.”
Patrick Hughesman, Nature Valley Classic Tournament Director, said: “Maria is one of the biggest stars of her generation and a former champion in Birmingham, so it will be great to see her back on the grass courts of the Edgbaston Priory Club.
"This year’s line-up of players is already incredibly strong and we could get more big names signing up in the next couple of weeks. It’s shaping up to be one of the most memorable weeks in the tournament’s history and it’s no wonder everyone - fans and players alike - wants to be part of it.”
The Nature Valley Classic runs from June 18 to 24.