PARIS: Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova insisted today that the French Open was right not to hand Serena Williams a special seeding for the event.
Former world number one Williams, a three-time champion in Paris, is playing a Grand Slam for the first time since winning the Australian Open in 2017. She then stepped off tour to give birth to her daughter in September and has since played just four times this year and not at all since March. As a result the 23-time major winner's ranking has crashed to 453 in the world and she needed to use her protected ranking to enter the draw at Roland Garros.
Many in tennis, including long-time rival Maria Sharapova, and outside the sport, the most vocal of whom has been Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka, believe the rule needs to be changed. But not Kvitova.
"I don't really think so," said Kvitova who was off the tour for six months last year after suffering knife wounds fighting off a burglar at her home in the Czech Republic.
"I know from my perspective that when I came back I didn't really feel like a player who is top 20.
"So, yeah, I was seeded, but because of the points which I earned in the end of the year before.So it was a little bit different situation, but I don't really think that should be the rule for this."
In Rome last week, Sharapova spoke up in support of her long-time rival.
"It's a tough call, I would like to see that change," Sharapova said. "I think that would be nice."
Even Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the US president, waded into the debate over the non-seeding of Williams at the French Open, branding the decision by tournament organizers "ridiculous".
"This is ridiculous," tweeted Trump. "@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."
At Wimbledon, which runs from July 2-15, the All England Club are likely to seed Serena using its unique system that favours grass-court specialists, given she is a seven-time champion.
Williams, the 2002, 2013 and 2015 champion at Roland Garros, will face Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the first round of the French Open. Ironically, she could face Sharapova, a two-time winner, in the last-16.