Serena Williams could still be seeded at this year’s Wimbledon championships despite being snubbed by French Open organisers, the All England Club said yesterday.
The American is expected to play at Roland Garros next week, where she has won the title three times, but without being seeded she could conceivably meet champion Jelena Ostapenko in the first round.
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) confirmed yesterday that its seedings would be based on the latest WTA rankings.
Williams, who has won 23 grand slam singles titles, is ranked a lowly 453rd after returning to action this year following the birth of her daughter last September.
She has not played a tournament since Miami in March and pulled out of the claycourt events in Madrid and Rome.
While the French Open sticks rigidly to rankings, Wimbledon’s tennis sub-committee allows itself some wiggle room.
The men’s seedings is usually based on ATP rankings in conjunction with a formula based on grasscourt results over the previous two years. In contrast, the women’s seedings usually follow the WTA rankings list but can be tweaked by the All England Club in special circumstances.
“The seeding order follows the WTA ranking list, except where in the opinion of the committee, a change is necessary to produce a balanced draw,” is the All England Club’s official line on its website.
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 championships.
The Wimbledon seedings committee will meet to discuss the order of the 32 seeds on June 26.
The tournament begins on July 2.
Williams has won Wimbledon seven times but missed last year’s tournament while she was on maternity leave.
Despite her lowly ranking she will be able to compete at Roland Garros under the WTA’s protected ranking rule, which allows athletes returning from long absences to gain entry into tournaments using the ranking they had when they stopped playing.
Wrong, says Evert
Meanwhile, fellow American and seven-time French Open champion, Chris Evert said the French Open organisers were wrong to stick rigidly to the WTA ranking list and not seed Williams.
Evert believes the protected ranking rule should extend to seedings.
“It’s wrong, they should protect players,” Evert, who will be working for broadcaster ESPN during the Paris fortnight, told Reuters by telephone.
“Not just for her but for the other women who could play her in the first round. She could play Halep in the first round. It’s about protecting the field too.
“It’s not like you decide to take a year off. I mean if you are forced out of the game for a specific reason, whether it be maternity or injury, you need to be protected.
“You don’t have to put her back at number one because she left at number one but try to figure out some sort of happy medium where it’s fair for all.”
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