Ser­ena hails rule changes to pro­tect moth­ers in ten­nis

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

ABU DHABI — Ser­ena Wil­liams has de­scribed the new changes to the ‘Spe­cial Rank­ing’ rule in­tro­duced by the WTA for 2019 as “great” and be­lieves the move will en­cour­age more play­ers to take a break from the tour to have chil­dren then come back to re­sume their ca­reers.

Un­der the new rules, re­turn­ing moth­ers who have a spe­cial rank­ing that would earn them a seeded po­si­tion can be drawn as an ‘ad­di­tional seed’ at tour­na­ments, mean­ing they would not be able to face a seed in the open­ing round of a tour­na­ment.

This change also en­sures that no seed will get bumped as a re­sult of a re­turn­ing mother given a pro­tected seed­ing.

Wil­liams — who was voted The As­so­ci­ated Press Fe­male Ath­lete of the Year for the fifth time on Wed­nes­day — along with other moth­ers on tour like for­mer world num­ber one Vic­to­ria Azarenka, had been ad­vo­cat­ing for such rule changes that would ease the tran­si­tion back for play­ers fol­low­ing the birth of their chil­dren.

“I think it’s great,” Wil­liams said of the new rule changes dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in Abu Dhabi ahead of an ex­hi­bi­tion match against her sis­ter Venus on Thurs­day.

“Women that are younger can go out there and have kids and not have to worry about it and not have to wait ‘til the twi­light of their years to have chil­dren and I think it’s a re­ally great rule.” The 37-year-old Amer­i­can had her daugh­ter Alexis Olympia in Sep­tem­ber 2017 and re­turned to the WTA cir­cuit last March at In­dian Wells. “I think hav­ing gone through the ex­pe­ri­ence my­self re­ally opened my eyes up to me and, ‘Would have I done it sooner had there been dif­fer­ent rule changes?’ I don’t know. But now that there is an op­por­tu­nity, peo­ple don’t have to ask that ques­tion any­more,” added Wil­liams, who is cur­rently ranked 16 in the world. “I think it’s a great rule change. I think it is a lot. But I feel like it’s just some­thing that’s al­ways go­ing to be there and be spe­cial and “am happy that they did it.” The Mubadala World Ten­nis Cham­pi­onship in Abu Dhabi will be Wil­liams’ first on-court ap­pear­ance since she lost the US Open fi­nal to Naomi Osaka in Sep­tem­ber amid a wave of con­tro­versy that re­sulted from her out­burst at chair um­pire Car­los Ramos, whom she ac­cused of sex­ism. “I’m feel­ing good. I’ve been train­ing for a cou­ple of months now and I’m get­ting ready for the new year,” the 23-time Grand Slam cham­pion said in the UAE cap­i­tal. — AFP.

Ser­ena Wil­liams

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