- John McEnroe feels Serena Williams should be given privileged draw position
- Williams, who gave birth last year, is currently ranked at No 183 in the world
- Seedings for Wimbledon will be announced on Wednesday following a meeting
- Former world No 4 James Blake said she should be ‘celebrated’, not ‘punished’
John McEnroe has added his weight to those calling for Serena Williams to have a privileged draw position for Wimbledon when the seedings are announced on Wednesday.
The Championships’ main committee will meet the day before to discuss the extent to which the seven-time champion should be given a helping hand when the draw is made this Friday.
Williams is currently ranked 183 in the world and has a 5-2 match record this year following her return to the tour after giving birth in September last year.
The 36-year-old had a daughter – named Alexis – with husband and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
John McEnroe believes Serena Williams (pictured in Melbourne last year) should have a privileged draw position at Wimbledon
The 36-year-old had a daughter – named Alexis – with husband and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian
McEnroe believes that she deserves favorable treatment, even if it means that the world No 32 would be bumped off the list of seeds, and be at the mercy of the draw when it comes to pulling a first-round opponent
The rules are somewhat grey in this area, and last month the All England Club had to scramble to reach a position with the Women’s Tour Association about what could be done
Ultimately it was decided that the committee should have a fallback position of using ‘discretion’ about where she should end up.
McEnroe believes that she deserves favorable treatment, even if it means that the world No 32 would be bumped off the list of seeds, and be at the mercy of the draw when it comes to pulling a first-round opponent.
‘I don’t think there would be a player that would complain, especially the top ones, if she was one of the top eight. Why in the world would they want to play her in the first, second, third round? Nor should they, in my opinion.’
When asked whether this would be fair on the world No 32 – currently looking like Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova – he was typically blunt. He also made references to TV viewing figures for the recent French Open.
Williams, back in action after giving birth last year, is currently ranked at No 183 in the world
‘What’s her name? No offence. You’re talking about Serena Williams. Singlehandedly, our ratings the day she played, I know on NBC, were 50 percent more than a year ago. It’s like Tiger Woods when he came back. All of a sudden it’s top of the ratings.
‘Forget the fact that she has won 23 Majors and what she brings to the table. I’m sorry, I apologize to the 32nd player in the world. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. I just don’t think it’s right to think that way. That’s me coming from a different viewpoint.’
Former world No 4 James Blake, meanwhile, said Serena should not be ‘punished’ for going on maternity leave.
SERENA WILLIAMS’ RECENT WIMBLEDON RECORD
2017 – Absent
2016 – Winner
2015 – Winner
2014 – 3rd round
2013 – 4th round
He said: [Mothers] should be protected. [Serena] had a kid, which we should all be celebrating, so when she comes back there should be a grace period where she can still be seeded.’
While Serena has been keen to emphasize that ‘pregnancy is not an injury’, opinion has appeared divided among the players about whether or not she should get special treatment. The likes of Jo Konta and Caroline Wozniacki, both of whom are well-disposed towards the American, have cast doubt on whether a fair decision can be made.
There is no argument about whether she should be allowed to get straight into the tournament, as rules are already in place for her to claim a protected ranking for entry purposes.
Williams looked sluggish on her return in March but started to look much sharper at the French Open. She withdrew prior to her much-anticipated fourth round against Maria Sharapova with an injured pectoral muscle but is expected to be fit for Wimbledon, despite not playing an official warm-up on the grass.