Serena Williams speaks out on new WTA ranking procedure

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Serena Williams

Serena Williams believes the Women’s Tennis Association’s (WTA) decision to give greater ranking protection for new mothers is a “great rule change”.

On the back of Williams and fellow former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka’s return to competitive tennis after giving birth in recent years, the WTA has tweaked its rulebook.

Under the new rule, returning mothers or players coming back from injury can use their previous ranking to enter 12 tournaments over a three-year period.

Players will enter tournaments as an “additional seed”, which means they won’t face a seed in the opening round. However, that doesn’t mean it’s bad news for seeded players as they won’t get demoted under the new rule.

“I think it’s great,” Williams said.

“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.

“I think having gone through the experience myself really opened my eyes up to me and, ‘Would I have 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.

“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 I’m happy that they did it.”

The 23-time Grand Slam champion will be in action against sister Venus in Abu Dhabi on Thursday in her first match since September’s US Open final defeat by Japan’s Naomi Osaka. That match was overshadowed by her outburst at chair umpire Carlos Ramos, whom she called a “liar” and “thief”.

She was docked a game for verbal abuse following a point penalty for racquet smashing and a code violation for coaching. She was subsequently fined for her outbursts.

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