Aussie wildcard Kimberly Birrell has progressed to the third round of the Australian Open by defeating the tournament’s 29th seed Donna Vekic
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It’s very possible a French Open top seed could meet Serena Williams in the opening round.
For some unfathomable reason, the 35-year-old legend has been denied a seeding, thanks to her current world ranking of 453.
But there’s a simple reason for that out-of-character ranking, Serena gave birth to her first child Alexis Oympia and Roland Garros will be her first Slam since straight-setting big sister Venus to win last year’s Australian Open.
So Williams has been given a wild card entry, so she can pop up anywhere in the 128-strong draw that will be released tomorrow night once the qualifiers have been completed.
That is shameful disrespect shown by French Open decision-makers who don’t have to be governed by world rankings.
In the meantime there will be genuine contenders feeling very nervous about where Serena Williams will surface in the draw – it could well be defining.
Only three women in tennis history have given birth, and gone on to win a Slam singles title or more – Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, and Kim Clijsters.
Williams has only played two WTA tournaments since the Australian Open success – Miami and Indian Wells, both in March.
She won two rounds in Indian Wells only to be straight-setted by Venus in the third, and lost to Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the first round in straight.
So it’s two wins and two losses on the comeback trail for $67780 in prize money, just petty cash in her career prize money of $84.5 million, the all-time record.
Second on that illustrious list is Venus with $40.5 million, from Maria Sharapova’s $37.6 million, and Caroline Wozniaki’s $30.3.
There are only two all-time records Serena Williams doesn’t hold – her 23 Slam singles trails Margaret Court by one, and the most weeks as world number one held by Steffi Graf with 377 from Martina Navratilova’s 332. Serena’s on 319.
Margaret Court would have held the all-time record, but official world rankings for women didn’t start until 1976 with Chris Evert the first to be honoured.
It’s interesting Serena recently made public that her comeback inspiration was to again be world number one knowing to achieve that she will take over Margaret Court’s 24 Slam singles record.
For the record Margaret Court won three Slam singles after the birth of Daniel in 1972, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley two after the birth of Kelly in 1977, and Kim Clijsters one after the birth of Jada Elle in 2007.
It’s a pretty safe bet Alexis Olympia will be old enough to understand and watch from the crowd as mum sets a new Slam singles record that will never be beaten.