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Ivanka Trump criticizes French Open after Serena Williams snubbed from 32-player seeding

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When Serena Williams suspended her career in early 2017 to have a baby, she was the top-ranked player in the world.

She had just won the Australian Open for the 7th time, giving her 23 career Grand Slam titles. She moved ahead of Steffi Graf on the all-time list and trails only Margaret Court, who won 24 slams.

This week, Williams, 36, is making her return to tennis to compete in the French Open. Even after having a child and being out of the game for more than a year, she’s still one of the best players in the world, if not the best. But that’s not reflected in her ranking or seeding at the French Open.

Because of her absence, she fell to 453rd in the world, which is understandable as the rankings are based on rolling results.

Williams was still allowed to compete in the the French Open due to a Special Ranking Rule, which allows players who were injured for a long period of time or on maternity leave to “to return to competition to use their ranking at the time of the start of their absence.”

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However, the French Open announced this week that they give players seedings based on the current WTA rankings. That means she won’t be among the 32 seeded players in the tournament.

This did not sit well with many players and fans, including first daughter Ivanka Trump, who blasted the decision.

“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,” Trump tweeted.

Do you think it was unfair that the French Open refused to seed Serena Williams?

Some of Williams contemporaries also thought it was unfair.

“It’s normal to give birth. It’s normal to have protected ranking. … It’s more than tennis,” said Simona Halep, the WTA’s No. 1 ranked player. “So the people will decide what seed she will get. But in my opinion it’s good to protect the ranking when someone is giving birth.”

Williams’ longtime rival, Maria Sharapova, was also supportive, per The Washington Post.

“It’s such an incredible effort for a woman to come back from physically, emotionally,” Sharapova said. “There’s just another whole dimension to the travel, to the experiences, to the emotions to the physicality of every single day.”

Elina Svitolina, who is ranked fourth in the world, agreed.

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“If you’re like finished or you stopped because you’re going to have a child and you will be in top eight, I think you should have this kind of thing, to have protected seeding,” Svitolina said. “She was No. 1 so she deserves seeding.”

Williams didn’t comment on the seeding, but made a slight jab at her WTA ranking in a tweet this week.

“And…… just like that anti doping is here ….again… second time this week. proud to participate to keep the sport clean. Even if they do test me at my current ranking of 454 in the world. Two times every week,” she wrote.

No matter where she is ranked or seeded, everyone in the field knows Williams is a legitimate favorite to win her 24th slam.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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