The U.S. Tennis Association has given Serena Williams the 17th seed for the U.S. Open, which begins on Monday. The six-time Open champion, who came back to tennis this year following the birth of her daughter, Alexis Olympia, during the Open last year, is currently 26th in the world rankings.
While tournaments generally use the world rankings to determine seedings, they are free to elevate a player, and Williams is a 23-time Grand Slam champion.
"After 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, the USTA has moved Serena Williams’ seeding nine spots from 26 to 17,” the organization said in a statement. “We feel this is the appropriate decision, one that recognizes Serena, and is fair to the remaining seeded players.”
Williams returned to tennis in the spring and in advance of the French Open she was 453rd in the world. She was given entry to Roland Garros under the WTA’s special protected status, but French officials did not give her a seeding. She lost in the fourth round to Maria Sharapova, who in advance of the tournament argued that Williams should have been seeded.
The USTA said at that time that it would look at its policy on seeding and take into account the effect of pregnancy and childbirth on a player’s ranking.
Williams was given what she termed a surprising seeding at Wimbledon at No. 25 and she made a surprising run all the way to the final, where she lost to Angelique Kerber.
The new mother has had a very low-key summer, losing a first-round shocker to Johanna Konta at San Jose, 6-1, 6-0, the worst loss of her career. She lost in the second round last week at Cincinnati to Petra Kvitova. She recently revealed on social media that she was struggling with post-partum emotions.
The top four women’s seeds are Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki, defending champion Sloane Stephens and Kerber. Williams' older sister, Venus, is seeded No. 16.
The top four men’s seeds are Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Juan Martin del Potro and Alexander Zverev. The highest seeded American is John Isner at No. 11.