Serena Williams, 183rd in World, Gets No. 25 Seed at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England — Serena Williams, whose world ranking is No. 183 after she took time off to have a baby last year, will be seeded 25th in the singles draw at Wimbledon, the tournament announced on Wednesday.

The seedings for Wimbledon, which starts Monday, were announced a week after the next Grand Slam event, the United States Open, announced that it would revamp its seeding process to protect women who were returning to the court after giving birth.

Players on the tennis tour have been divided over whether Williams deserved to be seeded at Wimbledon, as well as the broader issue of whether accommodations should be made for those who step aside while pregnant.

The elevated status for Williams, ranked 183rd, was the only deviation from the world rankings made by the committee, made up of the tournament referee; representatives from the All England Club, the tournament host; and representatives from the Lawn Tennis Association, the governing body for tennis in Britain.

A seeding of 25th at Wimbledon, while much higher than someone with Williams’s world ranking could normally expect, still brings a difficult road as the tournament progresses. Seeds from 25th to 32nd are drawn to face one of the top eight seeds in the third round.

Had she been one spot higher, at 24th, Williams would have faced a player between ninth and 16th in the third round. The draw, determined by taking chips from a bowl, will be made Friday morning at the All England Club.

Because she was not playing, Williams, who was the top-ranked player in the world as recently as last year, fell in the rankings as she took time off to give birth in September to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

After returning from maternity leave in February, she lost early in her first two tournaments, but played formidably at the French Open last month before withdrawing because of a pectoral injury before her fourth-round match against Maria Sharapova. (Sharapova will be seeded one spot ahead of Williams at Wimbledon this year.)

Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon singles champion, won the tournament in her last two appearances, in 2015 and 2016, and her seeding has been adjusted before.

In 2011, after missing 11 months of competition because of a foot injury and pulmonary embolism, the seeding for Williams, the defending champion at the time, was elevated to No. 8, 18 spots above her world ranking of No. 26 (Williams was ultimately seeded No. 7 after the withdrawal of second-seeded Kim Clijsters).

Williams lost in the fourth round that year to ninth-seeded Marion Bartoli. She quickly regained her form, winning her next two tournaments. Wimbledon adjusted the seeding of only one other player that year: Williams’s sister Venus, a five-time Wimbledon champion who moved to 24th from 33rd and had also missed months because of an injury.

“This reflects the balance between their proven records and also their lack of competitive play in the past 12 months,” a Wimbledon representative said at the time.

The same could be said this year for Serena Williams, who will be playing her fourth tournament of the year at Wimbledon.

By elevating Williams to the No. 25 seed, the Wimbledon committee edged Dominika Cibulkova, ranked No. 32, out of the seedings.

Cibulkova, who reached a career high of No. 4 in March last year, has had more middling results this year, with a 14-13 record. She lost in the first rounds of the Australian Open and French Open.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, before the seedings were announced and after a second-round loss at a WTA tournament in Eastbourne, England, Cibulkova expressed frustration at the idea that Williams might be seeded at her expense.

“I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “I think it’s just not fair. I have tried, and I should be seeded. If they put her in front of me then I will lose my spot that I am supposed to have. I was a former No. 4, and it’s also like, why should I not be seeded if I have the right to be?”

The men’s seedings at Wimbledon evaluate the top 32 in the rankings using a formula that gives greater weight to recent results in grass court tournaments.

The defending Wimbledon champion, Roger Federer, ranked No. 2, was seeded first, ahead of the No. 1 player, Rafael Nadal, who was bumped to second because of his struggles on grass in recent years. Last year’s runner-up, fifth-ranked Marin Cilic, was seeded third.