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Doubles wild card for the Williams

Wimbledon: Serena and Venus Williams have received a wild card to play in the Wimbledon doubles even though they are the defending champions.

The curious situation developed because Venus does not have a doubles ranking and was not allowed to go straight into the draw.

Having announced some wild cards Thursday, Wimbledon officials have to decide where to seed the sisters, but they said it was unlikely they would be No. 1.

Among the wild cards in women’s singles was 16-year-old rising Russian star Maria Sharapova, whose on-court grunting at this week’s DFS classic grass-court tournament at Birmingham brought a warning from WTA officials.

Sharapova, whose ranking is set to shoot up from 125, has beaten two seeded players at the DFS tournament to reach her first WTA Tour quarter final.

The blonde Sharapova — billed the new Anna Kournikova — was one of eight women given berths in the main draw of the grasscourt Grand Slam.

Five went to British players ranked too low to automatically qualify.

Australia’s Samantha Stosur received one as part of a reciprocal deal with the Australian Open while Corina Morariu, the American player who has recovered from a rare form of leukaemia, has also been welcomed into the main draw.

Morariu won the Wimbledon doubles title with Lindsay Davenport in 1999 before she was diagnosed with leukemia in May 2001.

Seven of the eight men’s wildcards have been given to British players leaving one remaining spot to be awarded at a later date.

Among the wild cards in men’s doubles are brothers Giovanni and Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador who could be among the seeded pairs.

Ivanisevic doubtful

Croatia’s 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic is doubtful for next week’s tournament in Nottingham and may also miss the grasscourt Grand Slam later this month after injuring his knee on Thursday.

Ivanisevic, hopeful of being offered the final wildcard spot at Wimbledon, hurt knee ligaments while practising with compatriot Mario Ancic.

Initial media reports in Croatia said the 31-year-old would need to rest and had withdrawn from the Nottingham event, something refuted by tournament organisers.

“We have just spoken to his agent and he has definitely not pulled out of Nottingham,” a spokesman for the tournament said on Thursday.

“All we do know is that he is having his knee looked at but he has not pulled out.”

Ivanisevic has struggled with injuries since winning Wimbledon as a wildcard entry two years ago and was knocked out of the first round of the Stella Artois Championships in London this week by Czech Jan Vacek.

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