How WTA Special Ranking can help Serena and Azarenka

With Serena Williams’ announcement that she is expecting her first child this fall and new mom Victoria Azarenka returning to action later this summer, here’s how the WTA’s Special Ranking Rule applies to both players and in all maternity cases:

 Must have been out of competition for a minimum of 6 months, and maximum of 2 years; and

  • Must have the following ranking at the time she stopped playing:
  1. In the top 300 in Singles; or
  2. In the top 200 in Doubles

After the eligibility test is passed, the next step, for all kinds of breaks from the game, will be the Application procedure and timings. The player will have to fill a special ranking form and submit it to WTA, within 6 months after her last professional tournament played before being out of competition; and, no less than 10 business days (30 calendar days recommended by WTA) before they plan to enter an event with their Special Ranking for the first time.

The signed Special Ranking form will then be submitted to WTA operations for an approval of a Special Ranking status along with the following documents, all of which should be compulsorily in English:

  1. A public release statement, and
  2. Medical documentation including:
  3. a) Diagnosis of the condition
  4. b) A copy of the clinical visit
  5. c) Physician’s notes/ documentation
  6. d) All relevant laboratory tests and applicable surgical reports

If a player is requesting a Special Ranking due to more than one injury, each injury must be documented. Also, if the player is requesting a Special Ranking due to pregnancy, the same rules will be applicable. However, in cases of absences due to maternity leave, for a player to be eligible for Special Ranking, such player must be ready to play her first tournament within 12 months of the birth of her child.

The further steps include Medical Documentation, Handling and request for subsequent injuries, Status reports, Usage Criteria and Guidelines. Subsequent reports may be requested by WTA, and if a player fails to comply promptly with such request; the WTA may revoke her Special Ranking status. Also, all medical documents will be turned over to the WTA SS&M Department, to be kept in player’s confidential medical file.

According to all the aforesaid rulings, the Special Ranking will be the ranking earned immediately after the points of the last tournament the player played have been added to the WTA Rankings
-For Serena Williams, her Special Ranking would be No.1
-For Victoria Azarenka, her Special Ranking is No.6

Upon return, a player may use her WTA Special Ranking to gain entry (not for seeding) into eight tournaments within one year of her return date. The Special Ranking can be used at a maximum of two Premier Mandatory Tournaments (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing) and two Grand Slams.

In addition, any player who is a past singles champion of a Grand Slam or WTA Finals will be allowed an unlimited number of Singles Main Draw Wild Card nominations.

For data on further exceptions, for the age eligibility rule or doping etc., page number 67 of the link can be read:

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