Mother and Baby

Competitive tennis just became much more inclusive for new mothers

Serena Williams may be the best tennis player in the world, but, like many women, she still faced discrimination when she returned to work after having a baby. After not playing professionally for over a year, she dropped down in rankings to no.183 in the world. As a result, she was not granted a seed in the French Open, a move that has been widely condemned by the tennis community. However, the US Open has now announced that it is changing the way it seeds players to account for pregnancy.

Katrina Adams, president and chairperson of the US Tennis Association, told the New York Times that the U.S. Open would ‘revise the seedings if pregnancy is a factor in the current rankings of a player.’

Comparing Serena’s experience to a top executive returning from pregnancy at an entry-level position, she told the publication that players should not be ‘penalized’ for starting a family. ‘It’s the right thing to do for these mothers that are coming back, ‘she said, ‘we are all about social justice and equality, and this is definitely an instance of equality.’

Seedings allow the best players to face each other later in the tournament, intended so the hardest matches aren’t played early in a competition. Protected seedings allow players to return from injuries to their previous ranking, however, this does not apply to women who return after pregnancy. Serena Williams has long advocated for protected seedings after maternity leave, however, there is resistance within the tennis community as players who receive a seed outside of their ranking order will knock another player out of theirs.

Current Women’s Tennis Association rules do not grant protected seeding at tour events, however, the WTA received criticism for this when Serena was snubbed by the French Open and promised to reconsider their position. While we wait for that, the US Open has taken the issue into their own hands and with Wimbledon announcing their seeding on Wednesday, it’s expected they may make the same decision in accounting for pregnancy.

Traditionally, Wimbledon has been the only Grand Slam tournament to consider factors outside of a player’s ranking when deciding seeding. If they do choose to account for pregnancy, tennis will become a much more inclusive place for women.

Now read: 13 celebrity babies born in 2018!

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Kim Kardashian and Kanye West - Chicago West

Kim and Kanye's third child, Chicago West who was born on 15th January 2018 joins the couple's two other children, North and Saint.
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Danny and Georgia Jones - Cooper Alf Jones

Mcfly's Danny Jones and wife Georgia had Cooper Alf Jones earlier in the year on 27th January. The couple who married in August 2014, had been trying for a baby since the end of 2016.
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Aston Merrygold and Sarah Richards - Grayson Merrygold

Aston and Sarah announced they were expecting in September 2017. They got engaged in December and welcomed their first child on 30th January 2018.
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Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott - Stormi Webster

After Kylie keeping quiet for months and trying to keep her pregnancy as secret as possible, she gave birth to Stormi Webster on 1st February this year.
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Michael and Nicole Phelps - Beckett Phelps

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and his wife Nicole welcomed Beckett on 12th February this year to join Boomer who they had back in May 2016.
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Coleen and Wayne Rooney - Cass Rooney

Coleen and Wayne had another baby boy, Cass, on 15th February of this year joining Kai, Klay and Kit.
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Adam Levine and Benati Prinsloo - Gio Grace

Lead singer of Maroon 5, Adam Levine and supermodel wife Benati Prinsloo had their second child on 15th February this year.
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Robin Thicke and April Love Geary - Mia Love Thicke

The pair had their first child together, Mia Love Thicke on 22nd February.
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Eddie Redmayne and Hannah Bagshawe - Luke Bagshawe

Eddie Redmayne and Hannah Bagshawe had their second baby on 10th March to join Iris May, who was born in June 2016.
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Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson - True Thompson

Khloe and Tristan had True Thompson on 12th April. True will grow up with many cousins around her of the same age with Kylie and Kim both having babies this year too.
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Prince William and Kate Middleton - Louis Arthur Charles

The most eagerly awaited baby of the year, Royal baby Louis was born 23rd April joining Princess Charlotte and Prince George.
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Dwayne Johnson and Lauren Hashian - Tiana Gia

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Lauren Hashian had Tiana on 23rd April. In his heartfelt Instagram post Dwayne talks about 'skin to skin' with his new born Tiana.
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Amir Khan and Faryal Mackdoom - Alayna Khan

Amir Khan took to Instagram when Alayna was born on 24th April with this cute selfie of Amir and Alayna together.