The Women’s Tennis Association announced Monday that it will change its rules for the 2019 season to reduce penalties for players who take leave due to pregnancy or injury, USA Today reports. The WTA said players returning from pregnancy may use a “special ranking for up to three years,” which would prevent them from being bumped from their previously earned seeded position. Players who return from an injury after a year or longer may also use the special ranking system for up to 12 tournaments. “These changes are designed to fully support players in their return to competition, while maintaining the highest standards of athletic competition and fairness,” WTA CEO and chairman Steve Simon said. Serena Williams, who has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, was reportedly unseeded this year when returning to the court after the birth of her daughter. The new rules also address Williams’ bodysuit controversy at this year’s French Open. In 2019, players will not be “penalized or prohibited from wearing leggings or compression shorts without a skirt, dress or shorts over them.” Williams’ compression bodysuit, which she said she wore due to her history of blood clots, was banned by the French Tennis Federation.
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