ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Serena Williams has welcomed the extra protection given to new mothers when they return to the women’s tennis tour.
“It’s great,” the 23-time Grand Slam champion said on Thursday in quotes published by BBC Sport. “Women that are younger can go out there and have kids and not have to worry about it, and not have to wait until the twilight of their years to have children.”
The WTA rule changes were agreed on this month and are meant to ensure players are not penalized after they return from pregnancy or an injury that causes a long absence.
The changes were prompted in part by the experiences of former No. 1 players Williams and Victoria Azarenka, both of whom returned to competition after giving birth.
The WTA announced that players returning to the tour may use a special ranking for up to three years after the birth of a child, and the exemption can be used for seedings at big events.
“Having gone through the experience myself really opened my eyes. Would I have done it sooner had there been different rule changes? I don’t know,” Williams said in Abu Dhabi ahead of an exhibition tournament where she played her sister Venus in a one-off match.
“But now there is an opportunity, people don’t have to ask that question.”
Williams was unseeded at the French Open in her first major since the birth of her daughter — despite having won the previous major she played, the 2017 Australian Open. Williams was seeded 25th at Wimbledon and 17th at the U.S. Open, and she reached the finals and lost at both of those majors.
PARIS — Swedish tennis player Mikael Ymer was docked about $40,000 after being disqualified for smashing his racket against the umpire’s chair at a tournament the week before he competed at the French Open.
An ATP Tour spokesman said Ymer forfeited about $10,500 in prize money and 20 rankings he earned for reaching the second round of the Lyon Open. Ymer also was handed an on-site fine of about $29,000.
The spokesman said the ATP Fines Committee will conduct a review of what happened to determine whether any additional penalties are warranted.
The 56th-ranked Ymer, who is 24 and owns a victory over current No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, was defaulted in Lyon for an outburst late in the first set against French teenager Arthur Fils last week.
Ymer was upset that the chair umpire would not check a ball mark after a shot by Fils landed near a line. As the players went to the sideline for the ensuing changeover, Ymer smacked the base of the umpire’s stand with his racket twice – destroying his equipment and damaging the chair.
That led to Ymer’s disqualification, making Fils the winner of the match.
After his 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 loss to 17th-seeded Lorenzo Musetti in the first round at Roland Garros, Ymer was asked whether he wanted to explain why he reacted the way he did in Lyon.
“With all due respect, I think it’s pretty clear from the video what caused it and why I reacted the way I reacted. Not justifying it at all, of course,” Ymer replied. “But for me to sit here and to explain? I think it’s pretty clear what led me to that place. I think that’s pretty clear in the video.”
PARIS — French Open debutant Peyton Stearns produced the biggest win of her career by defeating former champion Jelena Ostapenko to reach the third round at Roland Garros.
Stearns, a former player at the University of Texas, only turned professional in June last year.
Ostapenko won the 2017 French Open but has since failed to advance past the 3rd round. The 17th-seeded Latvian dropped her serve five times against Stearns and hit 28 unforced errors in her 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 loss.
The 21-year-old Stearns has been climbing the WTA rankings and entered the French Open at No. 69 on the back of an encouraging clay-court campaign.
Third-seeded Jessica Pegula also advanced after Camila Giorgi retired due to injury. The American led 6-2 when her Italian rival threw in the towel.
Only hours after husband Gael Monfils won a five-set thriller, Elina Svitolina rallied past qualifier Storm Hunter 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.
In the men’s bracket, former runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas ousted Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2. The fifth-seeded Greek was a bit slow to find his range and was made to work hard for two sets but rolled on after he won the tiebreaker.
No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and No. 3 Novak Djokovic are on court later. Alcaraz meets Taro Daniel on Court Philippe Chatrier, where Djokovic will follow against Martin Fucsovics in the night session.