Wimbledon chiefs have admitted they’ll hold an interior debate to clarify if seven-time champion Serena Williams can be seeded at Wimbledon. Serena is 449th in the WTA rankings after taking time off to get married and have her first child last year. Following difficult birth of daughter Alexis Olympia, which left the American star fearing she might die after developing blood clots, Serena has played only two singles tournaments. The 36-year-old lost to her sister Venus within the last 32 at Indian Wells and was beaten by Naomi Osaka in the first round in Miami.
However, Miami Open tournament director James Blake said recently that the 23-time Grand Slam winner had been “punished” for attempting to begin a family.
The WTA provides players returning from injury lay-offs or pregnancy with a’protected ranking’that can be utilized to enter tournaments, but not for seeding at those tournaments.
Players can enter eight events utilizing the ranking they’d when they left, including for two Premier Mandatory events and two Grand Slams.
But players who support the protected ranking for just about any reason, on the men’s and women’s tours, can’t be seeded even when their protected ranking merits it.
World number 1 Simona Halep said Serena should have now been the utmost effective seed in Indian Wells because after she contested her last tournament before stepping away from the game, she was on top of the rankings.
Despite her difficult return to action, Serena is registered on the entry list for the French Open in June, with Wimbledon scheduled to get underway a month later.
Serena, whose last Grand Slam appearance was her victorious 2017 Australian Open campaign, could have an excellent case to be seeded at the French Open and especially Wimbledon, given her remarkable record on the All England Club lawns.
She’d won the tournament in 2015 and 2016 before missing last year’s edition.
However, Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Grand Slam winner, wasn’t seeded when she returned to tennis in 2017 after having a baby in 2016.
Azarenka was ranked fifth in her last tournament just before her time away from tennis due to her pregnancy.
And, asked on Tuesday, where they stood on the problem of giving Serena a seeding, Wimbledon officials conceded the question will be reviewed.
“It’s a good detailed question that we will for certain address at our meeting,” All England Club chairman Philip Brook told reporters at Wimbledon’s spring press conference.
“It’s completely different from an injury. We have empathy and sympathy for the idea being made.
“Our understanding is that when a player is outside the utmost effective 32 when it comes to their ranking, then they’ll not be seeded.”
Wimbledon’s seeding guidelines appeared to give leeway allowing Serena to be among the 32 seeds, but Brook said that wasn’t necessarily the case.
“The reason why there’s mention of the the utmost effective 32 in the men’s can there be needs to be a reference point,” he added.
“We all know for the utmost effective 32 we are adjusting for the surface based seeding. For the ladies we don’t have that issue.
“So maybe those words didn’t refer to the 32 simply because they didn’t need to. We have to check that.”