Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Evert blasts French Open after refusing to seed Serena

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Lora Ball | 24 May, 2018, 03:44

"French Open is punishing Serena Williams for having a baby" read a USA Today headline, arguing an expection for the 23-time major victor should be made for Thursday's draw.

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 victor a seeding.

Williams has won Wimbledon six times but missed last year's tournament while she was on maternity leave.

French Open officials could have opted to seed Williams, and not necessarily at No. 1, but they announced Monday that they would follow convention and give players seedings based on the current WTA rankings.

Williams, who has won 23 grand slam singles titles, is world ranked a lowly 453rd having returned this year from having a baby.

And while Williams is able to enter eight tournaments a year with a protected ranking - a system that allows players sidelined with pregnancy or long-term injuries to use their ranking at the start of their absence - she can not be seeded in Paris under current regulations. Serena Williams is not done being great and playing in the French Open will prove her greatness, according to her fans and the other players who know what she can do on the court.

Williams, who gave birth to daughter Alexis last September, can compete at Roland Garros under the WTA's special ranking rule, which allows players returning from a long spells out to use their ranking at the start of their absence. In March she briefly rejoined the tour for two tournaments where she was unseeded in Indian Wells and Miami.

Maria Sharapova told the AP that she would like to see the rule changed.

"It's such an incredible effort for a woman to come back from physically, emotionally".

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She is now ranked 453.

The WTA has been considering changing the rules to protect players returning from maternity leave, but the earliest any chances could come into effect is next year. Since then she has not had even a sniff at a title on clay but will be raring to go at the year's second grand slam.

"But right now, I'm taking a little bit at a time".

Williams has already benefited from this rule in the past as in 2011 she was ranked 25th before the start of Wimbledon but seeded seventh for the event.

"It's normal to give birth".

Serena had a tough time giving birth. She was not seeded at either tournament.

"I don't think we would be talking about this if it wasn't Serena", she said.

"I do expect that this rule will be reviewed further as part of our 2019 rules process".

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