The US Open will start considering pregnancy situations when making seedings so players aren’t penalized for starting families, US Tennis Association president Katrina Adams said in a New York Times report Saturday.
The change comes after criticism of French Open officials for how they handled the case of former world number one Serena Williams in her Grand Slam return last month after giving birth to a daughter last September.
“It’s the right thing to do for these mothers that are coming back,” Adams told the Times.
“We think it’s a good message for our current female players and future players. It’s OK to go out and be a woman and become a mother and then come back to your job and I think that’s a bigger message.”
While making no promises about where 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Williams might be seeded, Adams said the Open would “revise the seedings if pregnancy is a factor in the current rankings of a player.”
That’s the situation for Williams, who was not given a seeded spot by French Open officials. She withdrew with an injury before a scheduled fourth-round match with Maria Sharapova.
Williams, ranked 183rd, is a seven-time Wimbledon champion who will learn Wednesday whether or not she will be seeded for next month’s Grand Slam grass showdown in England.
The WTA Tour does not have protected seedings for players who return from absences, although it offers protected rankings to enter up to eight events a year in such situations.
“I get it. I would not want to be the number 32 player in the world who has worked hard in the last year to obtain this ranking,” said Adams, herself a former player.
“But we’re a Grand Slam and we have the right and the opportunity to seed the players according to what we feel is justified.”