The U.S. Open will start adjusting its women’s seedings to take a player’s pregnancy into account.
The tournament’s decision, first reported by the New York Times, comes on the heels of Serena Williams’ seed at the French Open. The dominant 23-time major champion Williams was unseeded at the French Open following the birth of her first child in September.
Seeds at major tournaments outside of Wimbledon follow tennis’ ranking system, which takes into account a player’s recent win-loss record. That record can obviously be non-existent if a player is on maternity leave.
USTA president Katrina Adams told the Times that changing the seedings was the right thing to do.
Under current Women’s Tennis Association rules, players who have lost ranking slots after missing time, because of injury, pregnancy or other reasons, do not get the benefit of a protected seeding at tour events, making it more difficult for them to negotiate their way through the draw.
In the wake of Williams’s return to tennis this year, the WTA received criticism for not making seeding allowances specifically for pregnancy. The organization said it would reconsider its position. But the U.S. Open will not wait and, like Wimbledon and the two other major events, it has the authority under Grand Slam rules to make such changes.
Williams beat seeded players in the second and third rounds of the French Open earlier this summer before being forced to withdraw from the tournament because of a pectoral injury so severe that she said she couldn’t serve properly. She was set to play Maria Sharapova before she withdrew.
Williams is a six-time U.S. Open champion, so she’ll probably be seeded quite higher than her ranking unless she vaults up the rankings following an impressive showing at Wimbledon. We’ll see where she’s seeded for that tournament — which she’s won seven times — on Wednesday when the seeds are released.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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