WTA ups ranking protection for returning mums

LONDON • The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) will offer greater protection to the rankings of mothers returning to the tour after giving birth, British media reported on Thursday.

Players returning from maternity leave or long-term injury will now be able to use their previous ranking to enter 12 tournaments over a three-year period.

By doing so, they will be able to avoid facing the top seeds in the opening rounds of tournaments.

However, Serena Williams' request for returning mothers to be seeded in line with their rankings has not been approved.

Seedings will still be at the discretion of tournament organisers.

The issue was raised after Williams' comeback following the birth of her daughter last year.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion returned in February and her ranking had fallen to 453 when she was not seeded at the French Open. She was, however, seeded 25th at this year's Wimbledon despite being ranked outside the world's top 32 players.

The 37-year-old had wanted players to be seeded in line with their protected rankings, and she was supported by her old rival Maria Sharapova and also world No. 1 Simona Halep.

The BBC reported that the association had also clarified its regulations around clothing to ensure Williams would be able to wear the black catsuit which attracted the ire of the French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli.

It has ruled that, going forward, "leggings and mid-thigh length compression shorts may be won with or without a skirt, shorts or dress".

However, dress code is also still down to individual tournaments, and Giudicelli may well still push to restrict Williams' fashion choices in Paris next year.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2018, with the headline 'WTA ups ranking protection for returning mums'. Print Edition | Subscribe