Serena Williams has lauded new changes to the ‘Special Ranking’ rule which have been introduced by the WTA for 2019.
The 37-year-old American – who gave birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia in September 2017 and returned to the circuit in March 2018 – believes the changes will encourage more players to take a break from the Tour to have children then come back to resume their careers.
Under the new rules, returning mothers who have a special ranking that would earn them a seeded position can be drawn as an ‘additional seed’ at tournaments, meaning they would not be able to face a seed in the opening round of a tournament.
The change also ensures that no seed will get bumped as a result of a returning mother given a protected seeding.
Williams, along with other mothers on Tour such as former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka, had been advocating for such rule changes that would ease the transition back for players following the birth of their children.
“I think it’s great,” Williams said of the new rule changes during a press conference in Abu Dhabi ahead of an exhibition match against her sister Venus on Thursday.
“Women that are younger can go out there and have kids and not have to worry about it and not have to wait till 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 have I 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 ‘’m happy that they did it.”