May 16 (Reuters) - Triple champion Maria Sharapova retired injured from her second round match with Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the Italian Open on Tuesday, ending her hopes of qualifying on merit for Wimbledon’s main draw.
The 30-year-old Russian, playing her third tournament back after a 15-month doping ban, was leading 2-1 in the deciding set but was unable to continue after apparently injuring her left thigh which was heavily strapped.
It completed a miserable evening for the five-times grand slam champion, currently ranked 211, who earlier found out that she had been refused a wildcard for the French Open.
The French Tennis Federation decided against awarding the former world number one even a place in the qualifying event -- a move that surprised many.
Sharapova had needed to reach the semi-finals in Rome to avoid needing a wildcard for the Wimbledon main draw.
However, her first round win against American Christina McHale in Rome means that her ranking will rise back inside the world’s top 200 just in time to be guaranteed a place in the Wimbledon qualifying tournament.
A decision as to whether she is granted a main draw spot will be taken on June 20.
Sharapova, banned after testing positive for heart drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, has had mixed results since re-joining the WTA Tour.
She reached the semi-finals as a wildcard in Stuttgart but fell early in Madrid to Eugenie Bouchard who days earlier had labelled the Russian a “cheater”.
Sharapova dropped the first set 6-4 against veteran Lucic-Baroni but battled back to take the second 6-3. (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)