In recent years, rarely a month goes by without some player getting married or giving birth. While before we barely even had moms returning to the circuit, now there are quite a few players continuing their careers despite motherhood and it’s not a rare occurrence that they play well into their pregnancies. Because of this baby boom, the WTA has found itself in a new situation, having to adjust the ranking system to make it more supportive of the ever-increasing number of WTA moms.
As of 2019, players coming back from childbirth, illness, or injury, will be able to use the ranking held at the start of their absence to enter 12 tournaments over a three-year period. Players must kick off their comeback within two years and then they have one year during which they can enter eight tournaments with their protected ranking.
When it comes to the seeding, the returning players will not have to face a seeded player in an event’s opening round, but they will not be seeded in line with their ranking. Tournaments, however, are able to use their own discretion to seed players.
WTA CEO Steve Simon talked about the exhaustive process of changing the rules, but also about his satisfaction with the outcome:
I think it reflects a very progressive approach to our maternity rules and standards, because there aren’t too many places in the world where you can be protected and have a three-year window after the birth of your child to come back to work and have a protected opportunity to come back at a level where you left.
(source: BBC, photo via Azarenka’s Instagram)