Tennis - Female tennis players who return to the tour after giving birth to a child will be able to use their previous ranking to enter 12 tournamnets over a three-year period according to a new rule introduced by the WTA Tour.
Also, as per the new rules, players who would have been eligible to be seeded based on their previous ranking will not be seeded in the tournament. However, the new rules will ensure that they do not face a seeded player in the first round of the tournament.
Several top players have returned to the tour in recent times including former World No. 1s Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka. Williams returned to the sport in February after giving birth last year. She did not get seeded at the French Open this year but was seeded for Wimbledon, which has used their own discrtionary seedings in the past.
As usual, several players have voiced their support for the new rules to encourage players who return from giving birth while others have expressed reservations over the same. The changes currently apply only to WTA events while the Grand Slams can continue to follow their own rules with regards to the same.
According to Metro UK, the following are the rule changes to be adopted with regards to women returning from pregnancy -
- A player out for more than a year will now be entitled to 12 tournaments to use her special ranking
- A tournament will not count towards a playe’s special ranking tournaments if she would have been accepted with her actual ranking
- A player may freeze her special ranking twice
- The 3-year period to use a special ranking for pregnancy begins at the birth of the child and for injury it begins at the date of the player’s last tournament.
- If a player’s special ranking would qualify her for seeding in the main draw, she will be drawn to a position in the draw that does not face a seed in the first round.
- A player can use her special ranking for seeding only at the first eight WTA tournaments she plays after returning to comptition.
Players ranked 375 or better (previously 300) can apply for a special ranking