MELBOURNE, Australia - Former champion Maria Sharapova will make her 16th career appearance in the Australian Open main draw later this month.

The 2008 champion at Melbourne Park, Sharapova's current ranking of World No.147 puts her outside the cutoff for direct entry at the first Grand Slam of the season, but tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed on Wednesday that the Russian has been awarded a wildcard to the main draw.

The Russian was confident on the subject of a wildcard berth when pressed on the subject by reporters following a first-round defeat to American Jennifer Brady on Tuesday night at the Brisbane International, her first competitive match since the US Open in August, saying only that she thought she'd receive one.

Read more: Brady hails serve improvement after battling by Sharapova in Brisbane thriller

In addition to raising the 2008 trophy, Sharapova is also a three-time runner-up at the tournament, reaching the final in 2007, 2012 and 2015. 

The 32-year-old is one of five main draw wildcards to the tournament that have already been announced, joining Korea's Han Na-lae, France's Pauline Parmentier, American CoCo Vandeweghe and Aussie Arina Rodionova.

Main draw play in Melbourne begins on Jan. 20.

2020 Brisbane highlights: Brady battles by Sharapova in thriller