French Open: Former champion Maria Sharapova pulls out of tournament with shoulder injury

Maria Sharapova
Sharapova won the last of her 36 WTA titles in October 2017

Former French Open champion Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from this year's tournament because of her long-standing shoulder problem.

The 32-year-old world number 35 has not played since pulling out of an event in her native Russia at the end of January and had a small operation in February.

"Sometimes the right decisions aren't always the easiest ones," the five-time Grand Slam winner said.

This year's French Open begins on 26 May and runs to 9 June.

Sharapova, who won the French title in 2012 and 2014, returned to the tour in April 2017 after a 15-month ban for taking the banned drug meldonium.

She reached the French Open quarter-finals last year, losing 6-2 6-1 to third seed Garbine Muguruza.

In the opening Grand Slam of this year, the Russian lost to Australia's Ashleigh Barty in the round of 16.

"In better news, I have returned to the practice court, and slowly building the strength back in my shoulder," she posted on her Instagram account, alongside a picture of her lifting the Roland Garros trophy in 2014.

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