Although ranked No. 183 in the world, the 23-time Grand Slam champion has been seeded 25th at the 2018 Championships, which begin July 2. Williams has won seven times but missed last year’s event because of her pregnancy, which also caused her to take a nearly 14-month hiatus from tennis.
The All England Tennis Club’s favorable decision came just a day after the athlete’s appearance on “Good Morning America,” where she expressed hope that the organization would change seeding rules for returning mothers.
“They never took into account women that left [at] No. 1 [because of] being pregnant,” Williams said. “I think and I hope — and it should be under review — to change these rules. Maybe not in time for me but for the next person.”
Seedings at Wimbledon generally adhere to Women’s Tennis Association rankings, which protect players who have taken time off due to injury — but not due to pregnancy. However, the All England Tennis Club is permitted to break protocol if deemed “necessary to produce a balanced draw.”
Separately, U.S. Open officials announced that they will no longer penalize athletes whose rankings have taken a hit due to pregnancy-related breaks, with the change taking effect when the tournament starts in August.
The move was prompted following criticism of the French Open’s treatment of Williams’ return to tennis after maternity leave. The three-time tournament winner saw her WTA ranking slide from No. 1 to 453, with the French Tennis Federation denying her a seeding.
The 36-year-old star memorably won last year’s Australian Open while two months pregnant with daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, who was born in September.