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- Serena Williams has been handed an easy ride at the start of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships.
- This is because Williams, ranked 183rd in the world having only competed in three pro events in the last year, has been “seeded” despite her low rating.
- Seeding means being given an easier path to the final, and is usually reserved for the top 32 players.
- As a result, 32nd ranked player Dominika Cibulkova didn’t get seeded, and has a harder job.
- Wimbledon is technically allowed to seed whoever it wants, but usually sticks to the rankings.
- Cibulkova will be furious – and the decision to seed Williams will could prove unpopular.
Serena Williams has been handed an easy ride at the start of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships – and one of her tennis rivals will be furious.
Williams has been “seeded” in the starting lineup of the tournament, which means she has to play opening matches against lower-ranked opponents, and has a better shot at the title.
Seeding is usually reserved for the 32 players with the higher ranking from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
While Williams has previously held the world number 1 rank, she is currently 183rd – a result of playing just three professional events in the past year due to her recent pregnancy.
The All England Club, which runs Wimbledon, usually sticks to seeding the top 32 players. They made an exception for Williams this year, which is within the rules, but unusual.
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Wimbledon made Williams the 25th seed, which comes at the expense of Dominika Cibulkova, who was ranked 32nd and therefore didn’t get seeded at all to make room for Williams.
“I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Cibulkova said earlier in this week, when talking to the BBC about the prospect of not getting seeded to make room for Williams.
“I think it’s just not fair. I have tried and I should be seeded. If they put her in front of me then I will lose my spot that I am supposed to have.”
The BBC’s tennis correspondent Russell Fuller says Cibulkova will not be the only one enraged by the decision.
Fuller said: “Cibulkova’s view that the decision is unfair is shared – both privately and publicly – by many WTA players, so the All England Club’s decision will not be universally popular.”
Business Insider contacted the All England Club to find out their justification for the seeding, but is yet to receive a response.
But the news comes hot on the heels of a maternity leave controversy. Just last month the WTA and the French Open were in hot water when the second tennis major of the year failed to seed Williams last month.
Ivanka Trump championed a backlash and said the decision was “ridiculous” and that “no person should be penalised professionally for having a child.”
This is ridiculous. @SerenaWilliams is a formidable athlete (best ever!) and loving new mother. No person should ever be penalized professionally for having a child! The #WTA should change this rule immediately. #FrenchOpen.https://t.co/W5jQ5aEUXm
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) May 24, 2018
WTA rules outline that women who step away to have a baby have their entry into tournaments protected, but not their seeding.
“I think it’s more of a protection for women to have a life,” Williams told The Times. “You shouldn’t have to wait to have a baby until you retire. If you want to have a baby and take a few months off or a year off and then come back, you shouldn’t have to be penalised for that. Pregnancy is not an injury.”