Serena Williams' pregnancy might cost her at the French Open, and the policy is drawing criticism

  • Serena Williams will not be given a seed at the French Open because she is ranked 453rd in the world.
  • Several people in the tennis world argued that the policy unfairly punishes women who give birth, forcing them to sacrifice their ranking to have a child.
  • Many current and former players argued that top-ranked players' ranking should be protected if they go on maternity leave, something the WTA is reportedly considering.

Serena Williams' first major in over a year will have a difficult road.

The French Open organizers told The Associated Press that it would follow the WTA's rankings to determine seedings for the tournament. That means Williams, who has fallen to 453rd while stepping away from the sport to take care of her first child, will go un-seeded at the tournament.

Williams, a three-time champion at the French Open, now has a tougher road to the final because there's a higher chance she'll have to play some of the game's best players early in the tournament. Likewise, it's a scary prospect for the top-ranked players who may have to face Williams early on.

Serena Williams and her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
See Gallery
Serena Williams and her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
Pink things 📸:@alexisohanian
Can’t wait for @olympiaohanian to get tips from @simonebiles
Nothing brings me more joy than my sweet @olympiaohanian. 📸: @alexisohanian
I love these pre match hugs. They are my new fav part of my job. @olympiaohanian
As I head into next year it’s not about what we can do it’s what we MUST do as working moms and working dads. Anything is possible. I am getting ready for the first match of the year and my dear sweet baby @olympiaohanian was tired and sad and simply needed mama’s love. So if it means warming up and stretching while holding my baby that’s what #thismama will do. My fellow moms and dads working- or stay home it’s equally as intense- but you inspire me. Hearing your stories makes me know I can do this. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This year is to you! What are some things you had to do while working? #thismama #thisdaddy
@natashagrossmakeupartist found out @olympiaohanian Is the best assistant.
This mama waited my whole life to be twins with her #thismama
Just one of those mornings with @olympiaohanian
For my 10 million followers. Thank you ❤️❤️
Sandbox workouts with @olympiaohanian 📸: @alexisohanian
The countdown is on for New York! I’m so excited for my first pop-up shop in NYC from Friday - Sunday @Tictail, a female-run business like mine. If you can’t make it in person, you can still shop our exclusive NYC tee that launches this Friday.
My baby is 6 months today. So yummy.
She wanted to dress 80's
Welcome home momma
She's like "Mommmmmmmmmmm my friends are looking" #freshfaces
Just how I look at her
When I first saw this @voguemagazine cover it brought tears to my eyes. All Vogue covers are special but to share this one with my beautiful daughter @olympiaohanian also the youngest Vogue cover star makes it moment I will never forget. The article is a must read. Link in bio
Mommy and me
My mommy loves Snapchat
Mama never sleeps. When she does, I go on adventures with daddy. "Come on!"
My final top 10 moment of 2017. Of course includes @olympiaohanian they say save the best for last. I could not choose so I just choose 10 random videos. They all were so cute to me 🤷🏾‍♀️🤷🏾‍♀️
There are so many reasons to quit, but even more to keep playing. Even if you don’t go pro, sports can teach you so much. So keep playing. Link in bio. #sistersinsweat #gatoradepartner @gatorade
Meet Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. You have to check out link in bio for her amazing journey. Also check out my IG stories 😍😍❤️❤️
We clearly don't take enough family portraits. This one's from the honeymoon. @olympiaohanian was not ready for the snap... 😒 2017 was a year to remember for a lot of reasons (good as well as bad) so that they may all serve as motivation, inspiration, and a compass for what we know to be right. These two women are my everything. And the duty I have to them as a husband and a father is the greatest responsibility I'll have in my life; I'm honored to bear it. And I know I'll always find new ways to keep making you, laugh, @serenawilliams. 2018 is going to be a phenomenal year. And may there be many, many more to come. Wherever you are in the world tonight, I hope you're with people you love.

The policy has drawn criticism from some in the tennis world. The WTA has a "special ranking" rule that allows players who have gone on maternity leave to preserve their entry into tournaments, but not their world ranking. However, some have argued that the current rule punishes women whose rankings drop because they decided to have a child.

USA Today's Nancy Armour argued that the rule makes women choose between their careers and having children.

"She had a baby, a physically grueling experience made even more so by complications that left her bedridden for six weeks.

"To not recognize that that should warrant an exception, be it for Williams or any new mother, is both outdated and mean-spirited. Not to mention short-sighted on the part of French Open officials, who risk seeing one of the world’s most popular athletes make an early exit from her first major since she had her daughter because she’ll face top competition right away.

"But the larger, inexcusable point is the discriminatory way in which motherhood is viewed by both tournament organizers and the WTA. The idea that players should have to choose between having a family and having a career is as antiquated as wooden rackets."

Williams herself addressed it to The New York Times' Christopher Clarey in late April, before the French Open's decision, saying women should be able to juggle both personal life and tennis without sacrificing one or the other.

"I think it's more of a protection for women to have a life," Williams said. "You shouldn't have to wait to have a baby until you retire. If you want to have a baby and take a few months off or a year off and then come back, you shouldn't have to be penalized for that. Pregnancy is not an injury."

Several top women's players also came out in defense of Williams. Maria Sharapova told the AP that she would like to see the rule changed.

"I would like to see that [rule] change,'' Sharapova said. "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."

No. 1-ranked Simona Halep also said women who go on maternity leave should have their rankings protected.

"It's normal to give birth," Halep said (via the Washington Post's Des Bieler). "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."

Former professional tennis player James Blake, who is now the director of the Miami Open, told the Washington Post that it's as if Williams is being punished.

"It's not as if she left because of injury and lost her passion for the game," Blake said. "She had a kid, which we should all be celebrating, so when she comes back there should be a grace period where she can still be seeded … It's a kind of punishment, which is tough."

Williams seemed to hint at her displeasure when she tweeted that she was still drug-tested, despite her low ranking.

According to the AP, the WTA is considering a rule to protect the rankings of highly ranked players when they go on maternity leave, but that it would not go into effect until next year.

NOW WATCH: NBA ref explains why the James Harden step-back jumper isn't traveling

See Also:

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.