*Serena Williams will be seeded No. 25 at the start of this year’s Wimbledon in London, it was announced Wednesday.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner and seven-time women’s singles champion at the All England Club took maternity leave for the birth of her first child. Her current world ranking is No. 183, and she was unseeded several weeks ago at the French Open.
For Wimbledon, seedings generally had followed the WTA world rankings, which protects players who have been out due to injury but not those absent due to pregnancy. However, the All England Club can make a change if deemed “necessary to produce a balanced draw.”
However, not everyone is happy with this move.
“I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. I think it’s just not fair,” said Dominika Cibulkova, a two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist, who is ranked No. 32 in the WTA rankings, and the player most disadvantaged by the decision to seed Williams. The Slovakian would have taken the last seeded spot but instead goes into the open draw.
Unless a seed withdraws before the start of the tournament on Monday, Cibulkova could potentially face Halep or even Serena Williams in the first round.
“I think it’s now right that WTA offers a protected ranking. I think that’s good,” Cibulkova told the BBC at the Eastbourne championships. “But I think this is a little bit of a different story. Why should I not be seeded if I have the right to be?
“I think if it was a different player, not her, I think she would not be seeded. It’s just because she won it many times and she’s Serena Williams. So I think that’s why.”
Simona Halep is No. 1 in the women’s draw, with defending champion Garbine Muguruza at No. 3 behind Caroline Wozniacki. Venus Williams is No. 9, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty is No. 17, home favorite Jo Konta is No. 22 and Maria Sharapova is seeded 24th, one place ahead of Williams.
Defending champion Roger Federer, who is seeking an eighth singles title at Wimbledon, leads the men’s draw, ahead of Rafael Nadal (No. 2). They are followed by Marin Cilic, Alexander Zverev and Juan Martin del Potro.