Serena Williams seeded 25th at Wimbledon

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Serena Williams was seeded No. 25 for her return to Wimbledon after having a baby, a decision by the All England Club announced Wednesday that elevates the tournament’s seven-time champion above her ranking of 183rd.

While WTA rules allow women who miss time because of a pregnancy to enter events based on their pre-absence ranking, there is no guarantee of a seeding, a policy which has been the subject of much debate in recent months because of Williams’ status.

The 36-year-old American gave birth to a daughter last September and was off the tour for more than a year.

By moving Williams into the top 32, the All England Club afforded her “protection” from facing any other seeded player in either of the first two rounds — and, of course, allowed the other seeds to avoid facing her that early, too.

Williams is a former No. 1 whose 23 major singles championships are a record for the professional era, which began in 1968. She missed Wimbledon in 2017, but won the title the last two times she was in the field, in 2015 and 2016.

Putting Williams at No. 25 now means that she could face someone seeded No. 1 through No. 8 in the third round.

The draw for Wimbledon is Friday; play begins Monday.

Wimbledon and other Grand Slam tournaments have leeway to stray from strictly following the WTA and ATP rankings when determining seedings.

That’s why, for example, eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer’s success on grass courts was taken into account when the All England Club bumped him up a spot to No. 1 on Wednesday, while top-ranked Rafael Nadal is seeded No. 2.

When Williams entered the French Open in May, her first Grand Slam action in 16 months, she was not seeded by the French tennis federation. She wound up beating the women ranked No. 11 and No. 17 en route to reaching the fourth round. But because of an injured pectoral muscle, Williams pulled out of Roland Garros before what would have been a showdown against five-time major champion Maria Sharapova.

The U.S. Tennis Association says it does intend to seed Williams for the U.S. Open, which begins in August. That is part of a new plan, first reported by The New York Times, to take into account if a pregnancy affected a player’s ranking.

“Pregnancy will not be penalized,” USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said. “If Serena Williams enters the 2018 U.S. Open, the USTA will recognize her accomplishments, recognize her return to the workplace and will seed her, regardless of what her ranking is.”

One effect of Williams’ being seeded at the All England Club: The 32nd-ranked Dominika Cibulkova, a two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist and the 2014 Australian Open runner-up, will not benefit from a seeding and could play anyone in the field in the first round.

“I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Cibulkova told British broadcaster BBC ahead of Wednesday’s seeding announcement. “I think it’s just not fair.”

No unseeded woman has won the Wimbledon singles championship. Only two unseeded men have raised the trophy at the All England Club: Boris Becker in 1985, and Goran Ivanisevic in 2001.

Aside from the All England Club’s placing of Williams, the women’s seedings align with the rankings. So French Open champion Simona Halep is No. 1, Australian Open Caroline Wozniacki is No. 2, reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza is No. 3, and U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens is No. 4.

Sharapova is seeded 24th.

In the men’s draw, after Federer and Nadal, 2017 runner-up Marin Cilic is No. 3, followed by Alexander Zverev and Juan Martin del Potro.

MORE: Serena calls parts of Sharapova’s book ‘hearsay’

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Women’s Seeds

  1. HALEP, Simona (ROU)
  2. WOZNIACKI, Caroline (DEN)
  3. MUGURUZA, Garbiñe (ESP)
  4. STEPHENS, Sloane (USA)
  5. SVITOLINA, Elina (UKR)
  6. GARCIA, Caroline (FRA)
  7. PLISKOVA, Karolina (CZE)
  8. KVITOVA, Petra (CZE)
  9. WILLIAMS, Venus (USA)
  10. KEYS, Madison (USA)
  11. KERBER, Angelique (GER)
  12. OSTAPENKO, Jelena (LAT)
  13. GOERGES, Julia (GER)
  14. KASATKINA, Daria (RUS)
  15. MERTENS, Elise (BEL)
  16. VANDEWEGHE, Coco (USA)
  17. BARTY, Ashleigh (AUS)
  18. OSAKA, Naomi (JPN)
  19. RYBARIKOVA, Magdalena (SVK)
  20. BERTENS, Kiki (NED)
  21. SEVASTOVA, Anastasija (LAT)
  22. KONTA, Johanna (GBR)
  23. STRYCOVA, Barbora (CZE)
  24. SHARAPOVA, Maria (RUS)
  25. WILLIAMS, Serena (USA)
  26. GAVRILOVA, Daria (AUS)
  27. SUAREZ NAVARRO, Carla (ESP)
  28. KONTAVEIT, Anett (EST)
  29. BUZARNESCU, Mihaela (ROU)
  30. PAVLYUCHENKOVA, Anastasia (RUS)
  31. ZHANG, Shuai (CHN)
  32. RADWANSKA, Agnieszka (POL)

Men’s Seeds

  1. FEDERER, Roger (SUI)
  2. NADAL, Rafael (ESP)
  3. CILIC, Marin (CRO)
  4. ZVEREV, Alexander (GER)
  5. DEL POTRO, Juan Martin (ARG)
  6. DIMITROV, Grigor (BUL)
  7. THIEM, Dominic (AUT)
  8. ANDERSON, Kevin (RSA)
  9. ISNER, John (USA)
  10. GOFFIN, David (BEL)
  11. QUERREY, Sam (USA)
  12. DJOKOVIC, Novak (SRB)
  13. RAONIC, Milos (CAN)
  14. BAUTISTA AGUT, Roberto (ESP)
  15. SCHWARTZMAN, Diego (ARG)
  16. KYRGIOS, Nick (AUS)
  17. CORIC, Borna (CRO)
  18. POUILLE, Lucas (FRA)
  19. SOCK, Jack (USA)
  20. FOGNINI, Fabio (ITA)
  21. CARRENO BUSTA, Pablo (ESP)
  22. EDMUND, Kyle (GBR)
  23. MANNARINO, Adrian (FRA)
  24. GASQUET, Richard (FRA)
  25. NISHIKORI, Kei (JPN)
  26. CHUNG, Hyeon (KOR)
  27. KOHLSCHREIBER, Philipp (GER)
  28. SHAPOVALOV, Denis (CAN)
  29. DZUMHUR, Damir (BIH)
  30. KRAJINOVIC, Filip (SRB)
  31. CECCHINATO, Marco (ITA)
  32. VERDASCO, Fernando (ESP)

Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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