Serena Denied Seeding For French Open Return

If there's a player who shouldn't be afraid of Serena Williams' return to Grand Slam tennis at the French Open, it's certainly Garbine Muguruza.

Williams, who has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, is ranked 453rd after returning this year from having a baby.

She is now training with her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, at his Nice-based academy where he confidently proclaimed that his ward was capable of adding to her 23 Grand Slam titles, even though she has slipped down the ranking to a lowly 453, which means she would be unseeded at Roland Garros.

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.

Williams was ranked number one when she left the WTA Tour a year ago after winning the 2017 Australian Open to give birth.

No other man has won more than six French Open titles in the professional era.

She said not being the defending champion this year will help her adopt a more relaxed approach.

Williams played as an unseeded competitor at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open and at the 2018 Miami Open.

John Isner
AFP Getty Images

Maria Sharapova, who has often been on the wrong side of a one-sided rivalry with Williams, supported a rule that would allow players on maternity leave to retain their rankings.

"I don't think that there was too much of a difference", Djokovic said after that setback, "which is great for me, great news for me".

"It's normal to give birth", Halep said, via The Washington Post's Des Bieler. But seeding is based on current rank.

Several of Williams' biggest rivals believe she deserves a seeding. After losing to Daria Kasatkina at the Madrid Open, she lost her opening match to Daria Gavrilova last week in Rome. "It's such an incredible effort for a woman to come back from physically, emotionally", she said. "But in my opinion it's good to protect the ranking when someone is giving birth". But those people are forgetting that Serena won the 2017 Australian Open while she was pregnant.

In her absence - as well as the 15-month doping ban served by longtime rival and five-time major victor Maria Sharapova - there's been a stampede to get on the Grand Slam honours board before normal service is resumed. 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".

"If a woman takes 12 months maternity leave in a workplace, the law allows her to return to the same position", she said.

Williams seemed to hint at her displeasure in a tweet on Monday, saying she was still drug-tested despite her low ranking.

  • Stacy Allen