Blake urges seeding rethink after Serena draw

Shovel party! Serena joined WME  IMG co President Mark Sharpiro Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Miami Open Tournament Director James Blake for the ceremony

Williams' effort couldn't be faulted though it was Osaka who possessed the greater firepower and consistency which allowed her to dominate most of the exchanges.

A 23-time Grand Slam singles victor, she has no official ranking, which means she can not be seeded for WTA events.

Tennis superstar Serena Williams picked up a shovel for today's ground breaking ceremony at Hard Rock Stadium, which will soon serve as the new home for the Miami Open tennis tournament.

"So just playing against her is kind of like a dream for me".

"But for me, from the outside looking in, it makes sense to protect someone who goes on maternity leave and help her get the benefit of an easier draw and a better path".

Those rules specify that the 36-year-old can hold a protected world ranking to enter up to eight tournaments, including two Grand Slams, during a 12-month period - thus avoiding qualifying - but it does not apply to seedings. "But anyone who is counting Serena out is doing so at their peril". Her results in Indian Wells give her a ranking of No. 491 this week.

Now players who hold a protected ranking for any reason - on both the men's and women's tours - can't be seeded even if their protected ranking merits it and Blake told AFP: "For someone who goes on maternity break, they should be protected".

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When she comes back in March next year, she plans to be holding a tennis racket instead.

Williams, driven away from Crandon Park straight after the match, is now 2-2 in her comeback, with her year's break from the game depriving her of any seeding protection and so laying her open to meeting potent opponents in the early rounds.

As Serena Williams stepped on court to battle older sister Venus at Indian Wells last week for the 29th time in their professional career, one "fan" eagerly took her seat in the stands.

"I hope they revisit those talks although it will be too late for (Williams) unless she decides to have another child", he said.

Needless to say, she made Scotty's night. "Women should not be penalized for giving birth by starting from zero".

"I was extremely nervous coming onto the court", Osaka said. "I'm very grateful I was able to play her and it is better still that I was able to win". Having a part-ownership of the tournament is something that I will look forward to.

The American won a 23rd Grand Slam before becoming the top-ranked player in women's tennis when she defeated her sister Venus in straight sets to win the 2017 Australian Open final in January a year ago. "It was good to play and try to get in the rhythm and get into the swing again", she said.

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