The U.S. Open made a big move over the weekend by announcing it will adjust its seeding process for players to take pregnancy leave into account.

US Open To Take Maternity Leave Into Account For Seeding

The move comes after tennis officials drew rebukes in May for how Serena Williams was treated when she returned to the French Open. Williams, 36, had her first child — a daughter — with husband Alexis Ohanian in September, and complications that arose from her pregnancy, along with injuries, forced her to miss several major tournaments like the Italian Open and the BNP Paribas Open.

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“It’s the right thing to do for these mothers that are coming back,” Katrina Adams, the United States Tennis Association president and chairwoman, told the New York Times last week of the new rule. Adams added that female players who return after giving birth should not be “penalized” just for becoming pregnant.

Adams did not reveal what seed Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, would receive for this year’s U.S. Open, which is scheduled to start on August 27. Williams is currently ranked as the World No. 183.

Earlier this month, Williams pulled out of Roland Garros in Paris after a third-round victory over German Julia Goerges because of a pectoral injury. The American superstar had been scheduled to play Maria Sharapova in the fourth round.

Wimbledon is the next major international tennis tournament, and is set to start on July 2. The tournament in London has long been the lone Grand Slam event take other factors into account besides world rankings when choosing how to seed players, according to the championship’s website. The seedings for Wimbledon will be unveiled on Wednesday.

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Women who become pregnant often face discrimination — with regards to time off, salary and other matters — not just in other sports, but across many other industries as well.

Belarusian tennis player Victoria Azarenka, 28, gave birth to a son in 2016. A former World No. 1, Azarenka is now ranked 85th internationally.

According to the Times, most players have said they agree with the USTA’s new ruling.

The U.S. Open announced over the weekend that tickets for the event are now on sale.


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