The decision by French Open organisers not to grant Serena Williams a seeding on her long-awaited Grand Slam return has prompted renewed focus on the sport's policy towards female players and parenthood.
Williams will enter the tournament unseeded after the French Tennis Federation (FTF) confirmed that this year's ranking and list of the women's seeds will once again be based on the WTA ranking. But her results, far from convincing, have only been good enough to climb to 449th in the world rankings. That leaves the 23-time Grand Slam singles victor, who was ranked No. 1 in the world at the time she went on maternity leave, in danger of having to square off with a top player in the early rounds - and those players are facing the same unpleasant possibility.
The French Open organizers won't offer special treatment to Serena Williams should she make the trip to Roland Garros in Paris this summer.
She then stepped off tour to give birth to her daughter in September and has since played just four times this year and not at all since March.
Several of Williams' key rivals believe she deserves a seeding.
Before thrashing Thiem 6-0, 6-2 in Monte Carlo last month, Nadal said the Austrian was "probably one of the three best clay-court players on tour", but the last fortnight has shown that Zverev is potentially even more unsafe.More news: Chinese Officials Across the Globe Praise US-China Trade Truce
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"It's wrong, they should protect players", said Evert.
Many current and former players say top-ranked players' rankings should be protected if they go on maternity leave - something the Women's Tennis Association is considering, according to The Associated Press. So the people will decide what seed she will get. "I like the attitude that I'm playing with", said Sharapova, who added she was "going be so excited" to be heading back to Paris after "a tough period" in her life. She was not ready yet but needed to feel the competition, so she chose to play even though she was far from being at 100 percent.
Serena Williams will play her first grand slam in 16 months at this month's French Open.
"It's not as if she left because of injury and lost her passion for the game", Blake said. Muguruza's maiden victory over Williams in her second French Open appearance back in 2014 was a surprise, routing the defending champion 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.
Only the very fearless would write off the title chances of a player who was champion in 2012 and 2014, runner-up in 2013 and semi-finalist in 2011. "The rule is now under further review as part of our 2019 rules process".
"I don't think we would be talking about this if it wasn't Serena", she said.