No French Open seeding for Serena Williams

French Open organisers say they will not be giving three-time champion Serena Williams a seeding for this year's tournament but several of her biggest rivals believe the American great deserves more than just a guaranteed spot in the main draw.

The 23-time grand slam champion is expected to play in her first major at Roland Garros, which starts on Sunday, since giving birth to her daughter in September.

But the French Tennis Federation said in a statement: "This year again, tournament officials will establish the list and ranking of the women's seeds based on the WTA ranking. Consequently, (the seeds) will reflect this week's world ranking."

While Williams, 36, can enter Roland Garros under the WTA's protected or "special" ranking rule, it's up to grand slam organisers to seed her. Although she was No.1 when she left the tour to give birth, Williams is now ranked No.453.

The WTA Tour said it 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.

And several of Williams' biggest rivals believe she deserves a seeding.

Maria Sharapova, who has lost three grand slam finals to Williams, said at the Italian Open last week "I would like to see that (rule) change.

"It's such an incredible effort for a woman to come back from physically, emotionally.. There's just another whole dimension to the travel, to the experiences, to the emotions to the physicality of every single day.

"Tennis is such a selfish sport but I think when there's a child in your life you lose a little bit of that, because there's something that's so much more important."

World No.1 Simona Halep said: "It's more than tennis. In my opinion it's good to protect the ranking when someone is giving birth."

This past year the WTA adjusted the rule so that absences for maternity leave are treated the same as those for injury and illness by providing all players a two-year window to begin using a special ranking, plus an additional year from the date of return to utilise the special ranking.

"Historically, WTA players have not been supportive of the use of special rankings for seeding purposes," the WTA said.

"The rule is currently under further review as part of our 2019 rules process. We remain committed to evolving with the needs of our players and are very supportive of those players returning from maternity leave to the tour."