Mary Pierce calls for a re-look of seeding rule

With 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams being denied a seeding at the French Open, former tennis star Mary Pierce wants WTA to have a re-look at the seeding rule.

Mary Pierce felt that while Serena Williams wouldn’t be among the favourites for Roland Garros, she would still be a force to reckon with.   -  G.P. SAMPATH KUMAR

With 23-time Major champion Serena Williams being denied a seeding for the upcoming French Open, Mary Pierce, a two-time Grand Slam winner herself, called on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) to have a re-look at the rule.

Under the rule, players who are out of the game owing to injury or pregnancy for a minimum of six months are allowed to keep the ranking they held when they went on leave, but the decision to seed them is up to the tournament organisers.

“I think this is where the WTA could possibly have a look and consider using the protected ranking for seeding as well. Serena could now play the No. 1 seed of the French Open and that would be like a Grand Slam final in the first round, which is kind of crazy and unfortunate for both players,” said Pierce, who is in the city as the Event Ambassador for the TCS World 10k.

The former Australian and French Open champion felt that while Serena wouldn’t be among the favourites for Roland Garros, she would still be a force to reckon with.

READ: Mary Pierce hails exceptional qualities of Federer and Serena

“I think she is not yet back in form and clay is not her best surface. I would not put her as a favourite, but I will expect her to go deep in the tournament, just because she is Serena. Some people wonder if she can be the same player she was before. Now, she has become a mom, she has a nurturing side, a softer side. Will she be a killer on the court as before? Nonetheless, I have never seen in any other player such a deep burning desire to win every point. I will keep my eyes on her more for Wimbledon.”

In the absence of Serena, women’s tennis hasn’t had a well-defined pecking order, but for Pierce, it doesn’t diminish the field. “Sometimes, people like to see a rivalry between two players. Although today, there are a handful of girls who come into a tournament and you don’t know who is going to win. So, it’s exciting. I don’t see why it is not good for the game.”

However, the Frenchwoman was of the view that there was still some way to go before the likes of Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova et al could rival the ultra-competitive bunch of the 1990s, which had Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis and Pierce among others.

“It is different. You look at the 90s and early 2000s, you had a lot of depth. The top ten in the 90s was like each player could have been a number one player today. The players then had [varied] personalities and characters. There are a lot of exciting players to watch now too. Nevertheless, the game has changed so much, there is so much more money and is much more professional and business like.”