Friday, 22 June, 2018

How tennis rules are affecting Serena Williams' post-baby career

AP Images AP Images
Sergio Cook | 26 May, 2018, 13:24

The 23-times Grand Slam victor - who has three French Open titles to her name - has been missing from the sport since taking maternity leave after the Australian Open in 2017.

Williams was the top player in the world when she took a break to give birth to her first child, Alexis Olympia, last year, and has plummeted down to 449th in the rankings as a result.

The owner of 23 major singles titles, a record for the 50-year Open era, Williams hasn't played on one of her sport's most prestigious stages since winning the Australian Open in January 2017, while pregnant.

"Historically, WTA players have not been supportive of the use of special rankings for seeding purposes", the WTA said in a statement to The Associated Press.

And she is still the number one tennis player in the world even though her absence from the professional tennis circuit dropped her ranking to 453rd in the world.

Given the fact that Williams has won three French Open Championships at Roland Garros, it does seem unfair that she will have to enter unseeded because of her time-off to start a family.

Serena had a tough time giving birth.

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. Maria Sharapova, a noted rival, said "It's such an incredible effort for a woman to come back from physically, emotionally".

That means the 23-time grand slam victor could meet World No.1 Simona Halep in the first round at Roland Garros, for example. If you are forced out for a specific reason, whether it be maternity or injury, you need to be protected.

"So my personal view is that it is unfair that she has not been seeded".

She had early defeats at Indian Wells and Miami as she has struggled for form and pulled out of clay-court events in Madrid and Rome.

"It's wrong, they should protect players", Evert, who will be working for broadcaster ESPN during the Paris fortnight, told Reuters by telephone.

Injury then ruled her out of Wimbledon before she made a stunning Grand Slam return at the US Open under the lights of Arthur Ashe Court in August.

Just in time for her return to Roland-Garros in Paris, the Nike Women's Blazer Mid SW will release May 24 in limited quantities via Nike SNKRS. Another familiar face back in the draw: Victoria Azarenka, who gave birth to a son a year ago. But I feel like I always had a chance, and they kind of slip away, all the matches somehow, so even if it's a little bit disappointing, I feel like I was there and I had my chances.

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