WTA Approves Serena Williams' Catsuit, Adds Protections for Returning Mothers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2018

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 02:  Serena Williams of The United States celebrates victory during the ladies singles third round match against Julia Georges of Germany during day seven of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros on June 2, 2018 in Paris, France.  (Photo by XIN LI/Getty Images)
Fred Lee/Getty Images

The WTA addressed a pair of issues highlighted during Serena Williams's return to competitive tennis following her daughter's September 2017 birth.

According to BBC Sport's Russell Fuller, any players who return from injury or childbirth can "use their previous ranking to enter 12 tournaments over a three-year period." In addition, those players are guaranteed to avoid facing a seeded opponent in the opening round of a tournament.

The WTA also amended its rules regarding clothing to allow for the black bodysuit Williams wore at the 2018 French Open.

Williams missed nearly the entire 2017 WTA season due to pregnancy complications and came back at the BNP Paribas Open in March. After her maternity leave, she fell to 491st in the WTA rankings and was unseeded for the French Open.

Victoria Azarenka gave birth to her son in December 2016 and missed all but two events on the 2017 WTA calendar. She argued that mothers who are making their returns should have protections regarding their ranking.

"I feel that it's fair [to seed top-tier new moms who return]," she said, per Tennis.com's Jonathan Scott. "When someone is giving birth to a kid, it's more than a sport. Like I said, it's something very special in this life, and I have no problems if someone is leaving, No. 1 in the world, to give birth, and to come back to take the seed at the tournaments."

Fuller clarified the new rule still allows for individual tournaments to seed players, but the WTA's decision addresses the concerns Williams' situation raised.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner turned heads at Roland Garros when she donned her bodysuit, which was dubbed a "catsuit."

She explained she wanted to send a message with her wardrobe:

Williams added the compression the bodysuit provided served a physical benefit. She had blood clots before and after her pregnancy, and she told reporters the bodysuit helped her blood flow on the court.

Bernard Giudicelli, president of the French Tennis Federation, drew criticism in August when he said the tournament would ban similar outfits. In defending the moveGiudicelli said, "One must respect the game and the place."

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