Serena Williams backs WTA increased ranking protection for new mothers

Serena Williams
Williams reached two Grand Slam finals in 2018

Serena Williams has praised the introduction of more ranking protection for new mothers on the WTA Tour.

Players coming back from childbirth or injury can use their previous ranking to enter 12 tournaments over a three-year period.

In addition, they will not face a seeded player in an opening round.

"I think it's great," said Williams who gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia in September 2017 and returned to action in February 2018.

"Women that are younger can go out there and have kids and not have to worry about it, and not have to wait until the twilight of their years to have children, and I think it's a really great rule."

Williams, 37, was not seeded at the French Open, her first Grand Slam appearance following her return, but was given a seeding of 25 for Wimbledon, despite being outside the top 32 in the rankings. She is now ranked 16th and will be seeded for next month's Australian Open.

The WTA's rule change comes after the organisation canvassed the opinions of players earlier in the year.

World number one Simona Halep and five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova had both offered their support to Williams, but others like Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka and Johanna Konta expressed reservations.

Williams added: "I think having gone through the experience myself really opened my eyes. Would have I done it sooner had there been different rule changes? I don't know. But now there is an opportunity, people don't have to ask that question."

The 23-time Grand Slam champion will be in action against sister Venus in Abu Dhabi on Thursday in her first match since September's US Open final defeat by Japan's Naomi Osaka. That match was overshadowed by her outburst at chair umpire Carlos Ramos, whom she called a "liar" and "thief".

She was docked a game for verbal abuse following a point penalty for racquet smashing and a code violation for coaching. She was subsequently fined for her outbursts.

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