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Offbeat French Open is punishing Serena Williams for having a baby

09:09  22 may  2018
09:09  22 may  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

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French Open announces it will not seed Serena Williams for her first major since having daughter, potentially forcing the 3-time champ to face stiffer competition earlier in the tournament. Serena Williams is being punished for having a baby .

Serena Williams will not be seeded for French Open after maternity leave return. However, we Americans had a typical overboard moment when USA Today’s Nancy Armour (and whoever writes her headlines) deemed that Serena was being “ punished ” by the FFT for their decision.

Serena Williams is being punished for having a baby.

That’s the only way to see the decision not to give her a seed for the French Open, her first major tournament since giving birth to daughter Olympia in September. French Tennis Federation officials told The Associated Press on Monday that they would award seeds based on rankings and, because Williams is currently No. 453, well, she’s out of luck.

That logic might be understandable had Williams spent the last 16 months on sabbatical, focusing on some other endeavor. But she didn’t. She had a baby, a physically grueling experience made even more so by complications that left her bedridden for six weeks.

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Serena Williams is being punished for having a baby . That ’s the only way to see the decision not to give her a seed for the French Open , her first major tournament since giving birth to daughter Olympia in September.

recipient: French Open Organizers. Serena Williams is one of the best tennis players in the world. Because Serena had a baby in September and has been on maternity leave since then, she is technically ranked 453.

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To not recognize that that should warrant an exception, be it for Williams or any new mother, is both outdated and mean-spirited.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.

WTA rules grant players returning from injuries and maternity leave a “special ranking,” which preserves entry into tournaments but not seeding. Players have previously not favored using special rankings for seedings, the WTA told the AP, though it didn’t say why.

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Although Williams can enter Roland - Garros under the Women’s Tennis Associations’ special ranking rule, having no seeding will likely leave the three-time French Open champion to face RELATED: Serena Williams Withdraws from Australian Open : ‘I’m Not Where I Want to Be’ After Baby ’s Birth.

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Perhaps it’s because it was so rarely an issue. Tennis has been, particularly in the past few decades, a young woman’s sport, with players putting motherhood on hold until their careers are finished.

But that’s changing.

Kim Clijsters won three of her four majors after having her first child. Victoria Azarenka, who won two majors and was the year-end No. 1 in 2012, returned to the tour this month after a messy custody battle over her 1½-year-old son, Leo. Sania Mirza, a three-time Grand Slam champion in doubles, has already said she plans to return after having her baby, due in October.

You would think if any sports federation would understand why pregnancy should not be treated as either a handicap or a hindrance, it would be one with Women in its name.

“The rule is currently under further review as part of our 2019 rules process,” the WTA said in its statement to the AP.

Just because the WTA is stuck in the 1950s doesn’t mean the French Open has to be. (Take note, Wimbledon and U.S. Open. You're up next.) It could still have given Williams a seed, and there would have been little argument if it had done so.

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Serena Williams . The French Open starts next week. When the # FrenchOpen begins from @rolandgarros on Sunday, 3-time champion @ serenawilliams will be unseeded. Is she being punished for having a baby ? @rennaestubbs and @brookebcnn volley the topic around 🎾 https

Is The French Open ' Punishing ' Serena Williams For Having A Baby ? So, ahead of the French Open , many speculated whether Williams would receive "protective seeding", which allows an athlete who is returning from injuries to maintain their rank from before the injury.

Three of Williams’ 23 Grand Slam titles came at Roland Garros. She was ranked No. 1 when she went on maternity leave, having just won the Australian Open.

Even her fellow competitors are in favor of her being seeded.

“It’s such an incredible effort for a woman to come back from physically, emotionally,” Maria Sharapova said at last week’s Italian Open.

“So, yeah, I definitely think that would be a nice change.”

If even Sharapova, whose relationship with Williams is famously frosty, says that, it's a pretty good indication that French Open and WTA officials are doing it wrong.

Pregnancy and motherhood is already the toughest thing Serena Williams has faced. There's no need for the French Open to pile on.

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.

a man standing in a dark room: Serena Williams has won three of her 23 Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros. © Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports Serena Williams has won three of her 23 Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros.

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