Serena, Nadal out to make French Open history

French Open organizers will not give Serena Williams a seeding.

The 36-year-old, victor of 23 Grand Slam titles, is ranked a lowly 453rd in the world after returning to action this year following the birth of her daughter Alexis Olympia last September.

Williams kicked off her "Serena Slam" at the 2002 French Open, weeks after winning her first career clay-court title in Rome.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) confirmed on Tuesday that its seedings would be based on the latest WTA rankings.

As a result the 23-time major winner's ranking has crashed to 453 in the world and she needed to use her protected ranking to enter the draw at Roland Garros.

While she was No. 1 when she left the tour to give birth, Williams is now ranked No. 453.

Maria Sharapova who has been one of William's rivals over the years is in favour of the WTA changing its rules so players like Serena Williams don't get punished for taking time off to start a family.

The bottom half is anchored by second-seeded German Alexander Zverev and former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia - the last man to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros in the 2015 quarter-finals.

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"I don't think that there was too much of a difference", Djokovic said after that setback, "which is great for me, great news for me".

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko, 20, was the 100-1 outsider who shocked third seed Simona Halep in last year's women's final.

On the men's side, top-seeded Rafael Nadal, a 10-time victor at Roland Garros and already an overwhelming favourite, got even more help from the draw.

"Not just for her but for the other women who could play her in the first round". It's normal to have protected ranking.

France has six players in the top 50 of the men's world rankings and three in the women's top 50, but it seems unlikely that this year will produce a first home men's champion since 1983. "But in my opinion it's good to protect the ranking when someone is giving birth".

Williams has not played a tournament since Miami in March and pulled out of the claycourt events in Madrid and Rome, although she has been preparing for Roland Garros in France.

Despite all of the success she's achieved in her career, Halep is still in search of her first major, which adds extra pressure to a tournament that has plenty of title contenders.

"It's not as if she left because of injury and lost her passion for the game", Blake said. But I feel like I always had a chance, and they kind of slip away, all the matches somehow, so even if it's a little bit disappointing, I feel like I was there and I had my chances.

  • Regina Holmes