Just as US Open officials indicated they would back in June, the tournament boosted the seeding of the six-time champion Serena Williams because of her return from giving birth – but only by a few spots.
Williams, ranked 26th, was seeded 17th by the tournament, essentially bumping her up one level in the seedings: Instead of being on course to play a top-eight seed in the third round, she is now positioned to meet a player seeded between No. 9 and No. 16.
Heading into what will be her seventh tournament of the year, Williams has had a summer of mixed results. She reached the final of Wimbledon in July, but finished the month with the most lopsided loss of her career, a 6-1, 6-0 loss to Johanna Konta in the first round of the WTA tournament in San Jose, Calif.
The decision to bump Williams to 17th at the Open came after a process of “balancing a variety of factors,” said Chris Widmaier, a spokesman for the U.S. Tennis Association, which owns the tournament, “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 US Open.”
Katrina Adams, the USTA president, said in June that a player should not be “penalized” for the choice to start a family in the midst of her career.
“We think it’s a good message for our current female players and future players,” Adams said. “It’s okay to go out and be a woman and become a mother and then come back to your job, and I think that’s a bigger message.”
Williams’s daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., will turn 1 on Sept. 1, during the third round of the tournament.
Williams is still adjusting to managing motherhood on tour. A week after her loss to Konta, Williams posted on Instagram that she had been struggling with postpartum emotions the week before.