Simona Halep believes Serena Williams deserves to be seeded No. 1 at tournaments in her comeback from maternity leave “because she left as No. 1 in the world”.
Serena is back to the tour following a 13-month absence during which she had her first child, Olympia, last September, and is unranked. The American can enter up to eight tournaments though with a protected ranking of 22 (hasn’t been unseeded at an event since Cincinnati 2011), but cannot be seeded with that protected ranking.
That meant that the 23-time Grand Slam champion faced off with her eighth-seeded sister Venus as early as the third round in Indian Wells on Monday.
It prompted many to raise questions over the WTA rules and whether a player returning from maternity leave should also be given a ‘protected seeding’.
“I was thinking about Serena in this tournament, and also we were talking a little bit with my coach (Darren Cahill). And I think she should have been actually No. 1 seed in this tournament because she left as No. 1 in the world,” said current world No. 1 Halep on Tuesday following her 7-5, 6-1 victory over Wang Qiang in the fourth round at Indian Wells.
“And to give birth, it’s the best thing in the world. It’s more than a sport. So I think she should have been ranked as she left. Not taking the ranking because she didn’t play tournaments, but just protected ranking for — I don’t know how many tournaments you have, like, eight. She could be the No. 1 seed for that, for those tournaments. This is my opinion.”
Halep is echoing her coach Darren Cahill’s thoughts, who tweeted the following during Venus and Serena’s third round clash that was won by the older Williams sister 6-3, 6-4.
this match should not be happening in a 3rd round. Serena (and all mothers) should be protected by the WTA and allowed to use their protected ranking for seeding, if applicable. Women should not be penalized for giving birth by starting from zero 😊
— Darren Cahill (@darren_cahill) March 12, 2018
Halep was in the stands watching the all-Williams clash on Monday night, despite being scheduled first on Stadium 1 on Tuesday.
“It was my idea last night, actually,” said the Romanian, who next faces Petra Martic in the quarter-finals.
“It’s always nice to watch them. I love the way that they are motivated and they are still playing at this age, Serena with the kid. So it’s a great thing what they do for sport, and it’s great that tennis has them.
“It was really fun to come out here and watch the game. And also, you know, I have many things to learn from them. That’s why I’m trying just to go in to watch every time I can…
“I’m the world No. 1 in this moment, but I just watched the best player in the world,” she says of Serena.
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