Tennis great slams Serena's French Open snub

Martyn Herman

French Open organisers are wrong to stick rigidly to the WTA ranking list and not seed three-time champion Serena Williams for this year's tournament, fellow American Chris Evert said.

36-year-old Williams, winner of 23 grand slam titles, is ranked a lowly 453rd after returning to action this year following the birth of her daughter last September.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) has confirmed that the 32 women's seeds to be announced on Thursday will "reflect this week's world ranking."

Williams could therefore face defending champion Jelena Ostapenko or world number one Simona Halep in the opening round of her first grand slam event since she won the 2017 Australian Open when pregnant.

Williams could still be seeded at Wimbledon in July because the All England Club can tweak the seedings in special circumstances.

Serena Williams won't be seeded at her grand slam return at the French Open. Pic: Supplied

Evert, who won the French Open seven times, believes the same should apply at Roland Garros and the protected ranking rule, which allows athletes returning from long absences to gain entry into tournaments using the ranking they had when they stopped playing, should extend to seedings.

"It's wrong, they should protect players," Evert said.

"Not just for her but for the other women who could play her in the first round. She could play Halep in the first round. It's about protecting the field too.

"It's not like you decide to take a year off. I mean if you are forced out of the game for a specific reason, whether it be maternity or injury, you need to be protected."

The French Open begins on Sunday.