Serena Williams to return to French Open as unseeded player

A hostess waits at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris Friday

But at Roland Garros, an event she has won three times, organisers are not ready to take such a step with the French Tennis Federation (FFT) reaffirming the seedings will reflect the latest WTA rankings.

However, she still pulled in a tidy $21.9 million with only longtime rival Serena Williams able to boast a healthier bank balance.

Williams won the French open singles title in 2002, 2013 and 2015.

Serena was ranked No. 1 in the world when she left the court for maternity leave in January 2017.

Another familiar face back in the draw: Victoria Azarenka, who gave birth to a son a year ago. It's normal to have protected ranking.

Paris: The decision by French Open organisers not to grant Serena Williams a seeding on her long-awaited Grand Slam return has prompted renewed focus on the sport's policy towards female players and parenthood.

Williams has both the class and experience to not let being unseeded impact her game at the French Open.

Serena Williams almost died while giving birth to her first child a year ago, and she subsequently has experienced difficulties returning to the WTA Tour following a 14-month layoff.

The pressure of retaining her crown could weigh heavily, and she has yet to win a title this year, while two-time finalist Halep will be eager to make amends for last year's surprise defeat.

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"I remember doing an interview when Serena was pregnant and people were asking me constantly, do you think she can do it?" "It's such an incredible effort for a woman to come back from physically, emotionally".

The WTA is considering a rule change to add protected seeding for highly ranked players returning from maternity leave but the earliest that could take effect is next year. "But in my opinion it's good to protect the ranking when someone is giving birth".

Back then the former world number one had seen her ranking slump to 173 as she started to rebuild a career which also doubles as a multi-million dollar brand empire.

Williams returned to the tour briefly in March after a 14-month absence.

On Thursday, she was drawn to face Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the first round of the singles which gets underway on Sunday.

"She was number one so she deserves seeding."

Stephens has yet to get beyond the fourth round in six trips to Paris, but after collecting her maiden grand slam title at last year's US Open she brings a newfound belief that could get her over the hump on the clay courts of Roland Garros.

Williams commented on the frequency of the tests Monday on Twitter.

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