Eight months after giving birth to her first child, daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr., tennis champion Serena Williams made her triumphant return to the court in May at the 2018 French Open. In a turn that many new mom can relate to, the time off she had taken for maternity leave had set her back in her career. Because she had missed several important competitions, her international ranking was now much lower than it had been prior to her leave.
Thanks to a new ruling from Wimbledon’s seeding committee, though, Williams was able to regain some of her lost status. Although she is now ranked the No. 183 player worldwide, she will be seeded 25th in the singles draw at Wimbledon.
However, not everyone is happy about this change. Because Williams was given the 25th spot, Dominika Cibulkova, who was ranked No. 32, has been bumped out of the seedings — the tournament usually sees the top 32 players compete.
“I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Cibulkova told reporters. “I think it’s just not fair. I have tried, and I should be seeded. If they put her in front of me then I will lose my spot that I am supposed to have. I was a former No. 4, and it’s also like, why should I not be seeded if I have the right to be?”
For her part, Williams explained during an appearance on “Good Morning America” why she thinks it’s important that the rules that ranked her at No. 183 protect players who take time off to have children.
“I think and I hope — and it should be under review — to change these rules. Maybe not in time for me, but for the next person,” Williams explained. “Maybe she’s 25 and she wants to have a baby, but she doesn’t want her career to be over. She wants to continue to play. So I think it’s important to have those rules reviewed.”
Wimbledon’s guideline for seeding the tournament is to follow the world rankings, unless the seeding committee thinks “a change is necessary to produce a balanced draw,” the New York Times reported.
It’s clear family time has become important to the tennis star:
Williams previously opened up about how the experience of being a new mother has changed her. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK, the tennis star spoke candidly about her struggle with postpartum depression, as well as her plans to resume her career.
When asked if she believed she could still emerge a champion at Wimbledon, Williams responded with confidence.
“I’m not going to play if I don’t think that,” she told the magazine. “Even if my goals are outrageous, totally insane, I’d rather reach for the sky.”