Following weeks of debate, officials have decided to seed Serena Williams 25th at this year’s Wimbledon tournament — in spite of the fact that she’s now technically ranked 183rd in the world — after ruling that players should not be punished professionally for taking maternity leave. Williams, who was ranked No. 1 in the world and coming off a remarkable victory while pregnant at the French Open in 2017 when she took an extended break from the tour for maternity leave, told Good Morning America that she was happy about the message top tournament officials were sending to other women who might be considering having children of their own.
“Unfortunately, in the ’90s they changed the rule whereas if you were injured [and] then you came back, you lose your seeding. They never took into account women that left No. 1 [because of pregnancy] and left not for an injury, but to have a great life and not give up tennis, but to come back,” she explained.
U.S. Tennis Association President Katrina Williams also hailed the decision, telling The New York Times that the “bigger message” was that “it’s OK to go out and be a woman and become a mother and then come back to your job.”
In a recent interview with InStyle Magazine, Williams, 36, acknowledged that if it weren’t for her tennis career she’d probably want to try again for another child immediately — even though giving birth to her baby daughter, Olympia, nearly killed her. Since Olympia’s birth, she said, she had only spent one day apart from her — and had taken to waking up around 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. to feed the infant before immediately jumping into practice.
Watch Williams discuss the rule change with Good Morning America below.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 27, 2018