French Open organizers will not give Serena Williams a seeding.
She gave birth to a daughter on September 1, then dealt with medical complications, and while she originally had hoped to be back on tour by the Australian Open this January, that did not work out.
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) confirmed on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) that its seedings would be based on the latest WTA rankings.
Williams was the top player in the world when she took a break to give birth to her first child, Alexis Olympia, last year, and has plummeted down to 449th in the rankings as a result.
The WTA told AP that it would review the current rule that allows players returning from injury or maternity leave entry into tournaments, but does not protect rankings for seeding.
"So the people will decide what seed she will get".
She is now training with her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, at his Nice-based academy where he confidently proclaimed that his ward was capable of adding to her 23 Grand Slam titles, even though she has slipped down the ranking to a lowly 453, which means she would be unseeded at Roland Garros.
At Miami, Williams ran into Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka in her opening match and was easily beaten. "So yeah, I definitely think that would be a nice change". If you are forced out for a specific reason, whether it be maternity or injury, you need to be protected.
Without a seeding she risks facing highly ranked players in the early rounds.
Not seeding Serena in wrong — Evert
The Wimbledon women's seedings usually follow the WTA rankings list but can be tweaked by the All England Club in special circumstances.
The other three Grand Slam hosts have seen similar struggles in recent years, with Andy Roddick the last American man to win the US Open in 2003, while Mark Edmondson was the most recent Australian victor at Melbourne Park back in 1976.
The fact that Serena is still the best player in the game isn't lost on the other great players who know how great Serena is on the court.
"It's such an incredible effort for a woman to come back from physically, emotionally", Sharapova said, adding: "There's just another whole dimension to the travel, to the experiences, to the emotions to the physicality of every single day".
"She was number one so she deserves seeding."
"It's normal to give birth", Halep said, via The Washington Post's Des Bieler.
"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 ..."
The decision of Roland Garros' organisers comes despite several players including world number one Simona Halep, Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova and Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina coming in support of giving Williams a seeding.
Many current and former players say top-ranked players' rankings should be protected if they go on maternity leave - something the Women's Tennis Association is considering, according to The Associated Press. "She was my idol since I was growing up".