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Azarenka: Same Seeding Rule For Everyone

Victoria Azarenka supports a longer maternity break for new moms on the WTA Tour, but stresses when it comes to a protected seeding there must be one rule for all.

Azarenka, who gave birth to her son, Leo, in December, 2016, is playing her second tournament of the year this week in Miami.

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Following her opening-round sweep of CiCi Bellis, Azarenka said she supports extending maternity leave for new moms returning to the pro circuit because the responsibilities of motherhood are different than recovering from injury.

"My honest opinion, and, you know, it's going to be the conversation, I don't think there should be a limit on the maternity leave as the same as is on the injury. That's my point," Azarenka said. "Starting a family you have the same pressure of two years to be able to come back and use your protected ranking. I think that's the part of the conversation that needs to be extended, and that was my point of view.

"Because, you know, two years, it takes ten months for pregnancy and you have a year to come back. It's a lot of pressure for somebody. Somebody's eager to go out there and start playing right away. Somebody's not. So I feel that this choice also has to be put in the priority. There shouldn't be such a short limit taking the amount of time it takes, you know, to have a family, so that's one of the part of conversation that we started."


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In Indian Wells last week, world No. 1 Simona Halep said Serena Williams, her launched her comeback from pregnancy at the BNP Paribas Open, should have been seeded first on a protected ranking.

Azarenka said she sees both sides of the issue and stresses there must be one universal rule rather than rule exceptions for superstar players.

"It's a sensitive area in the way that I look at it from two perspectives, because the conversation started because of Serena, you know, and all respect to her, if we look at her achievements and where she's come from, where I come from, it might be a fair choice that we do have a seeding in the tournaments after coming back," Azarenka said. "On the other perspective that I have to look at, as well, is the other players who worked really hard throughout the years and will be losing that seeding. It's a difficult question, because if we do make that rule, it will have to be for everybody. In terms of the people who we are talking about, you know, it's an exception, and there can be rules to exceptions, but they need to be -- rules need to be for everybody.

"So we have started this conversation a little bit in the player council. I'm a part of the player council. So we need to make sure that everybody is on the same level, and the best way to handle this situation is going to take a little bit of time, but it's good to start this conversation."

Photo credit: Miami Open Facebook