Miami tournament director: Serena seeding wrong

Serena Williams James Blake

Female players should not have their seeding negatively affected after taking maternity leave, according to Miami Open tournament director James Blake.

Blake, a former World No 4 on the ATP Tour, made his comments after Serena Williams – now unseeded – drew Indian Wells champions Naomi Osaka in the opening round of this week's WTA event in Miami.

Williams lost her seeding after taking 13 months off to have her first child.

"It makes sense to protect someone who goes on maternity leave," said Blake.

"The rules should help her get the benefit of an easier draw and a better path.

"These kind of things shouldn't happen. She has won this title so many times that she needs protection.

"It's not as if she left because of injury and lost her passion for the game. She had a kid, which we should all be celebrating, so when she comes back there should be a grace period where she can still be seeded."

Williams has no official ranking, which means she cannot be seeded for WTA events, though she can gain entry to eight tournaments in 12 months – including two Grand Slams – as a result of her former World No 1 ranking.

Osaka is also unseeded, despite her breakthrough win at Indian Wells on Sunday.

The WTA did at one time apply special seedings to players returning from long lay-offs – for any reason – but that rule was scrapped.