Serena Williams unseeded for French Open at first Grand Slam after giving birth

The three-time French Open champion, is expected to play in her first Grand Slam since giving birth to her daughter in September.

She was No.1 when she left the tour to give birth but is currently ranked No.453.

And tournament organisers announced on Monday they will not give Williams, 36, a seeding.

Current rules covering maternity leave and injuries allow a protected or "special" ranking to be used for entry into tournaments but not for seeding purposes – regardless of the reason for a player's absence.

Williams returned to the tour briefly in March after a 14-month absence. She was not seeded at tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami, and had two wins and two losses.

While Williams can enter Roland Garros under the WTA's protected or "special" ranking rule, it's up to Grand Slam organisers to give her a seed.

Without a seeding, the 23-time Grand Slam champion risks facing stars in the early rounds.

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.

The French Tennis Federation said ins a statement: "This year again, tournament officials will establish the list and ranking of the women's seeds based on the WTA ranking

"Consequently, (the seeds) will reflect this week's world ranking."

Some of Williams' biggest rivals believe she deserves a seeding.

Maria Sharapova said at the Italian Open last week: "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.


PERFECT MATCH What has Serena Williams called her baby, when did she give birth and who is her husband Alexis Ohanian?


"So, yeah, I definitely think that would be a nice change."

The French Open draw will be made on Thursday, with the tournament starting on Sunday.

Top-ranked Simona Halep said: "It's normal to give birth. It's normal to have protected ranking. It's more than tennis.

"So the people will decide what seed she will get. But in my opinion it's good to protect the ranking when someone is giving birth."

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