23 May 2018

Serena Williams misses out on French Open seeding following return from giving birth



Serena Williams' return to Grand Slam tennis from maternity leave just got even tougher, with French Open organisers announcing they will not give the 23-time major singles winner a seeding.

Williams, who has won three French Opens, is expected to play in her first major since giving birth to her daughter in September.

While Williams can enter Roland Garros under the WTA's protected or "special" ranking rule, it was up to French Open organisers to give her a seed.

"This year again, tournament officials will establish the list and ranking of the women's seeds based on the WTA ranking," the French Tennis Federation said in a statement.

"Consequently, (the seeds) will reflect this week's world ranking."

Williams was number one when she left the WTA Tour last year to give birth and is currently ranked 453 after returning to playing duties in March.

Without a seeding she risks facing highly ranked players in the early rounds.

The WTA is considering a rule change to add protected seeding for highly ranked players returning from maternity leave but the earliest that could take effect is next year.

Several of Williams' key rivals believe she deserves a seeding.

"I would like to see that (rule) change," Maria Sharapova said at the Italian Open last week.

"There's just another whole dimension to the travel, to the experiences, to the emotions to the physicality of every single day.

"Tennis is such a selfish sport but I think when there's a child in your life you lose a little bit of that, because there's something that's so much more important … I definitely think that would be a nice change."

World number one Simona Halep, speaking before the release of the French Open women's draw, also supported Williams being given a seeding.

"It's normal to give birth. It's normal to have protected ranking … it's more than tennis," Halep said.

"So the people will decide what seed she will get. But in my opinion it's good to protect the ranking when someone is giving birth."
Serena to play French Open 'to win it'

Williams returned to the tour briefly in March after a 14-month absence. She was not seeded at tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami, and compiled two wins and two losses.

She has recounted the difficulties she faced in childbirth, and a pulmonary embolism made it hard for her to breathe shortly after her daughter was born.

But after a period of training, coach Patrick Mouratoglou last week told the WTA tour website: "Serena will play the French Open to win it."

Current rules covering maternity leave and injuries allow a protected or 'special' ranking to be utilised for entry into tournaments but not for seeding purposes regardless of the reason for a player's absence.

But this past year the WTA adjusted the rule so that absences for maternity leave are treated the same as those for injury and illness by providing all players a two-year window to begin using a special ranking, plus an additional year from the date of return to utilise the special ranking.

"Historically, WTA players have not been supportive of the use of special rankings for seeding purposes," the WTA said in its statement.

"The rule is currently under further review as part of our 2019 rules process. We remain committed to evolving with the needs of our players and are very supportive of those players returning from maternity leave to the tour."

World number four Elina Svitolina, who retained her Italian Open title at the weekend, was also supportive of seeding Williams.

"If you're like finished or you stopped because you're going to have a child and you will be in top eight, I think you should have this kind of thing, to have protected seeding," Svitolina said.

Source - ABC News 

Follow by Email