Serena Williams Tennis Ranking dropped to No. 453 After Giving Birth
Serena Williams is facing an uphill battle. Williams, who had severe complications while giving birth to her now eight-month-old daughter, Alexis, is experiencing challenges returning to the professional circuit. This week, the French Open organizers announced that they would not give her seeding after her 14-month maternity leave. At the time Serena left the tour, she was ranked number one in the world and is now ranked number 453. The tournament officials explained,
This year again, tournament officials will establish the list and ranking of the women’s seeds based on the WTA [World Tennis Association] ranking.Consequently, (the seeds) will reflect this week’s world ranking.
Subsequently, without seeding, Serena will possibly face higher ranked players in the early rounds of the tournament, risking her chances of advancing. She could possibly play under a “protected ranking rule,” however, the organizers would have to allow her to do so by awarding her with a seed.
Fellow tennis players have spoken out in her defense, including most notably, long time rival Maria Sharapova, who has lost three Grand Slam titles to Serena. Sharapova told reporters at last week’s Italian Open,
I would like to see that (rule) change It’s such an incredible effort for a woman to come back from physically, emotionally. … There’s just another whole dimension to the travel, to the experiences, to the emotions to the physicality of every single day.
Tennis is such a selfish sport but I think when there’s a child in your life you lose a little bit of that, because there’s something that’s so much more important. So, yeah, I definitely think that would be a nice change.
Former world number one ranked tennis player, Chris Evert, says,
French Open organizers are wrong to stick rigidly to the WTA ranking list and not seed three-time champion Serena Williams for this year’s tournament. It’s wrong, they should protect players. Not just for her but for the other women who could play her in the first round…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.
In January, Serena spoke openly to Vogue about her near death experience giving birth. After having an emergency c-section, she says, “everything went bad.” Soon after, she experienced shortness of breath and it was discovered that there were blood clots in her lungs. Other severe medical issues caused her to remain in the hospital for six days.
The WTA is considering changing the rule to protect highly seeded players who are returning from maternity leave, but the rule would not take affect until 2019, at the earliest.
Serena returned briefly in March, but did not receive seeds in Miami and Indian Wells tournaments. She is a 23-time Grand Slam champion and has won the French Open more than any current player.
The French Open draw (seeding process) is Thursday with competition beginning on Sunday.
By –Miata Shanay