Serena Williams ready to deny Paris convention

Maria Sharapova (TIZIANA FABI  AFP

"French Open is punishing Serena Williams for having a baby" read a USA Today headline, arguing an expection for the 23-time major victor should be made for Thursday's draw.

After having her first child in September 2017, Serena Williams is making a triumphant return to grand slam tennis competition by playing in the French Open beginning this week.

The 36-year-old Williams, victor of 23 Grand Slam titles, is ranked a lowly 453rd after returning to action this year following the birth of her daughter last September.

The All England Club's official statement on the matter is that it follows the WTA ranking list, except where in the opinion of the seeding committee, a change is necessary to produce a balanced draw.

According to fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina, Williams is still number one, so she deserves seeding.

The French Open gets underway on Sunday.

Ten-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal regarded Richard Gasquet as the best player he faced as a junior, but the now-31-year-old has never reached a major final. Complications from the delivery included blood clots in Williams' lungs and six weeks of bed rest - yet she still made a triumphant comeback in March, nabbing her first post-baby win at the Indian Wells Masters in California on International Women's Day. It's about protecting the field too. Maria Sharapova, a longtime rival of Williams, said last week, "It's such an incredible effort for a woman to come back from physically, emotionally".

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She found out on Monday that she will not be seeded, which could make for a hard path through the tournament.

The WTA Tour said it is considering a rule change to add protected seeding for highly-ranked players returning from maternity leave but the earliest that could take effect is next year. Since then she has not had even a sniff at a title on clay but will be raring to go at the year's second grand slam. She also was the first unseeded women's champion at this tournament since 1933.

Serena had a tough time giving birth.

"Tennis is such a selfish sport but I think when there's a child in your life you lose a little bit of that, because there's something that's so much more important ..."

"She has won this title so many times (eight) that she needs protection", Miami tournament director James Blake said after the WTA refused to alter its rules despite conceding that they would be "further reviewed" going forward.

"It's normal to give birth", top-ranked Simona Halep said.

"Tennis is definitely a roller coaster", Stephens said. "She had a kid, which we should all be celebrating, so when she comes back there should be a grace period where she can still be seeded".

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