Serena Williams — 23-time Grand Slam winner and mother of one — is the catalyst behind two new rule revisions in the Women’s Tennis Association, People magazine reports. And we approve wholeheartedly.
The rule revisions from WTA come as a response to backlash to two incidents involving Williams.
Williams gave birth to daughter Olympia in 2017 and survived severe medical complications. The pro athlete was confined to her bed for six weeks postpartum. When she returned to compete in the 2018 tennis season, she discovered her No. 1 ranking had bottomed out at No. 451 because of a little thing called maternity leave. Grrrrrr.
Incident two: Williams was unseeded at the French Open, where her chosen outfit — a black athletic catsuit — caused massive controversy when officials ruled it a violation against the standard dress code for women players. Double grrrr.
But on Monday, following massive brouhaha and backlash, the WTA formally announced revisions to their rulebook.
The first revision was created to make it simpler for women to resume competition after giving birth or adopting a child (surrogacy and any other legal guardianship are also included). The “Special Ranking Rule” lets female players use a special ranking for up to three years after they welcome a child into their lives.
The second revision permits women playing in WTA tournaments to wear “leggings or compression shorts without a skirt, dress or shorts over them.” Meaning that a black catsuit is A-OK — and the ban is now lifted.
What did officials have against the catsuit in the first place? The president of the French Tennis Federation, Bernard Giudicelli, said that the outfit would “no longer be accepted” after the 2018 tournament. “One must respect the game and the place,” were Giudicelli’s words — as if an athletic compression suit is “dishonoring” the sport of tennis. Bet he’s having a cranky week after the WTA took matters into their own hands.
Tennis legend and WTA cofounder Billie Jean King was, on the other hand, delighted by the changes. She told The Washington Post, “I am pleased to see these rules changes at the WTA Tour to continue to protect our players in their workplace and allow them to play at their highest level. The seeding of the players and the tournament draws will now be more accurate, which will ultimately benefit the fans. The players can now return to the WTA Tour on their own terms and these new rules provide protections for their health, their family and their career.”
Preach, Billie Jean King. And all hail Serena the Great, whose attitude never fails to impress.