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Seeding rules 'punish females for going off on maternity leave'

 

By Robert Jones

Seeding rules in women's tennis are a "kind of punishment" for players such as Serena Williams after maternity leave and "should be changed", says the tournament director of the Miami Open.

James Blake, a former World No.4, was speaking after Williams (36) was drawn against Naomi Osaka in the opening round of this week's event.

She is unseeded after taking 13 months off to have her first child.

"It makes sense to protect someone who goes on maternity leave," said Blake. "The rules should help her get the benefit of an easier draw and a better path.

"This kind of thing shouldn't happen. She has won this title so many times that she needs protection. It's not as if she left because of injury and lost her passion for the game. 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."

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles winner, has no official ranking, which means she can't be seeded for WTA events.

Martina Navratilova, meanwhile, has the same job during Wimbledon that John McEnroe has - to provide BBC commentary on the Grand Slam tournament, which both former tennis greats conquered in the 1980s. But it's only McEnroe who earns something like £150,000 for his work, according to Navratilova.

BBC's recent list of highest-paid personalities includes McEnroe, the seven-time Grand Slam champion, under the category of £150,000-£199,999. And Navratilova, who also offers analysis over the course of the two-week Championships, said in a preview for a BBC Panorama investigative documentary that "he's getting at least 10 times as much money than I am."

"It's hard to compare exactly because some people work a longer days, maybe a few more programmes," Navratilova said. "But it was a shock because I get about £15,000 for Wimbledon."

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