Serena Williams got a bit of a boost in the seedings for the U.S. Open by being placed at No. 17, nine spots above her current ranking.
The U.S. Tennis Association’s decision, announced Tuesday along with all the other seeds for the main draws of women’s and men’s singles, means Williams avoids a possible matchup against one of the top eight players in the third round.
It also sets up a possible matchup at that stage against her older sister, Venus, who is No. 16, her ranking this week.
Indeed, all of the other seeds — 32 women, 32 men — were positioned based on the WTA and ATP rankings, as usual.
This will be the third Grand Slam tournament of Williams’ return to competition since her daughter was born during the 2017 U.S. Open last September. Williams dealt with health complications from childbirth, including dangerous blood clots.
The USTA already had said in June that it would institute a policy that would take into account if a pregnancy affected a player’s ranking. The issue arose when Williams — a 23-time major champion and former No. 1 — was not seeded when she returned to action at the French Open in May, her first Grand Slam tournament in nearly 1½ years. She was, however, seeded at Wimbledon, put at No. 25 while ranked 183rd.
Williams wound up as the runner-up at the All England Club, losing to Angelique Kerber there last month. The run to the final allowed Williams to rise to No. 28. In her next match, Williams had the most lopsided loss of her career, beaten 6-1, 6-0 by Johanna Konta in San Jose, California.
USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said the placement of Williams was determined by “balancing a variety of factors, including her return to competition following the birth of her daughter, her recent hard court performance this summer, and recognition of her achievements at the U.S. Open.”
He added that the USTA thought the decision “recognizes Serena, and is fair to the remaining seeded players.”
Williams, who turns 37 next month, has won the U.S. Open six times, most recently in 2014. She is one Grand Slam title away from equaling Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24; Williams already owns the mark for most major singles trophies in the half-century professional era.
The draw for the U.S. Open is Thursday in New York.
Main-draw play begins in Flushing Meadows on Monday.