WTA: Rankings protection for returning mums
The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) will offer greater rankings protection to mothers returning to the tour after giving birth and introduce a modernised dress rule as part of new rules announced yesterday for next season.
The changes address issues that came up this year when Serena Williams, who returned to action after giving birth, was unseeded for some events and caused an uproar with a black, skin-tight bodysuit she wore at the French Open.
But after gathering feedback from players, the WTA said its board of directors approved changes that will allow players out of competition for 52 weeks or longer to use their Special Ranking in 12 tournaments. A player returning from pregnancy will have a three-year period to use her Special Ranking, which will now begin at the birth of the child.
For players who would qualify for a seeded position in the draw, the updated rule will ensure they will not face a seed in the opening rounds whether returning from pregnancy or injury.
The board of directors also agreed that players at WTA tournaments would not be prohibited from wearing leggings or compression shorts without a skirt, dress or shorts over them. The WTA had no rule explicitly banning a player from wearing such outfits but adjusted the language of its rule to be more clear.
Among other rule changes is the rollout of a 25-second shot clock between points at premier events next year, with a full rollout for all WTA tournaments in 2020, in a bid to speed up the pace of play. Players will also be allowed only one toilet/change of attire break per match, down from the previous two. - REUTERS