Maria Sharapova is 211th in the world rankings

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.

Sharapova was banned after testing positive for heart disease drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, though the Court of Arbitration for Sport found she was not an “intentional doper”.

Men’s world number one Andy Murray