Wimbledon 2018: Serena Could Be Top Seed on Return

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Seven-time champion Serena Williams could still be made the number one seed at Wimbledon this year if the American climbs back into the world’s top 32 before the tournament.

Williams, 36, has dropped to 449th in the world since giving birth last year.

She believes players returning from pregnancy should have protected seedings as well as protected rankings.

Richard Lewis, chief executive of the All England Club, told BBC Sport that it was a “big decision”.

“There have have been examples where players have been moved up the seedings if they are in the top 32,” said Lewis.

But he said he thought it was “unlikely” Williams would be given a seeding if she was ranked outside the 32 in the run-up to the tournament, which starts on 2 July.

Williams, who gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr in September, has played four singles matches since returning to action, reaching the last 32 in Indian Wells before losing to older sister Venus and then going out to Japan’s rising star Naomi Osaka in round one at Miami.

After Indian Wells, world number one Simona Halep said she believed Serena Williams “should have been given top seed”, while Miami tournament director James Blake said the seeding rules for players returning from pregnancy were “a kind of punishment”.

Wimbledon said it would have to check its seedings agreement with the WTA before making a final decision.

“We would respect any agreement we have, but I think it is unlikely someone out of the top 32 will be put into the top 32,” said Lewis.

“There is the flip side that if a player comes in to the top 32 then a player who has worked hard all year to get into the top 32 would have to drop out.”

The Wimbledon singles champions will win £2.25m this year, with organisers announcing the total prize pot will increase by 7.6% to £34m.

Last year’s winners Federer and Garbine Muguruza took home £2.2m.

The total prize money is more than the 55m Australian dollars (£30m) offered by the Australian Open in January but slightly less than the French Open (£34.5m), starting later this month.

Wimbledon is to run from July 2 and July 15.

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