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Evert blasts French Open after refusing to seed Serena



No favours: Serena Williams has slipped down rankings during spell out of game

No favours: Serena Williams has slipped down rankings during spell out of game

No favours: Serena Williams has slipped down rankings during spell out of game

Former World No.1 Serena Williams will not be seeded for the French Open, which starts on Sunday.

The 36-year-old, winner of 23 Grand Slam titles, is ranked a lowly 453rd in the world after returning to action this year following the birth of her daughter Alexis Olympia last September.

With the French Tennis Federation (FFT) confirming that the 32 women's seeds to be announced tomorrow will "reflect this week's world ranking", it means Williams could face defending champion Jelena Ostapenko or World No.1 Simona Halep in the opening round.

This will be Williams' first Grand Slam event since she won the 2017 Australian Open when already pregnant.

Williams could still be seeded at Wimbledon in July because the All England Club's tennis sub-committee can tweak the seedings.

Chris Evert, who won the French Open seven times, believes the same should apply at Roland Garros and the protected ranking rule - which allows players returning from long absences to gain entry into tournaments using the ranking they had when they stopped playing - should extend to seedings.

"It's wrong, they should protect players," said Evert.

"Not just for her but for the other women who could play her in the first round. She could play Halep in the first round. It's about protecting the field too.

"It's not like you decide to take a year off. If you are forced out for a specific reason, whether it be maternity or injury, you need to be protected.

"You don't have to put her back at number one because she left at number one, but try to figure out some sort of happy medium where it's fair for all."

Williams has not played a tournament since Miami in March and pulled out of the clay court events in Madrid and Rome.

The decision not to seed Williams has attracted criticism but at least at Wimbledon the same dilemma is unlikely to arise for the seven-times champion.

The Wimbledon women's seedings usually follow the WTA rankings list but can be tweaked by the All England Club in special circumstances.

In 2011, Williams was ranked 25th before the start but seeded seventh for the championships.

The Wimbledon seedings committee will meet to discuss the seedings on June 26.

Belfast Telegraph