Maria Sharapova secures Wimbledon qualifying place with win over Christina McHale

Maria Sharapova in action against Lauren Davis during day five of the 2016 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 22, 2016
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Maria Sharapova clinches a place in Wimbledon qualifying following a first-round win over Christina McHale at the Italian Open on Monday.

Maria Sharapova has secured a place in Wimbledon qualifying at the very least following a first-round win over Christina McHale at the Italian Open.

The 30 year-old defeated her American opponent 6-4 6-2 on Monday afternoon to make the second round of the competition in Rome.

Sharapova, ranked 211 in the world, was given a wildcard in Italy as she continues her return from a 15-month drugs ban.

The Russian's win over McHale ensures that she will move inside the top 200 and earn a Wimbledon qualifying place next month, without the need for a wildcard.

Sharapova will play Croatian 16th seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in round two of the Italian Open, and if she makes the semi-finals in Rome, she will qualify for Wimbledon's main draw.

Serena Williams of The United States reacts during the Ladies Singles first round match against Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland on day two of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 28, 2016 in London,
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